FAMILY support charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is celebrating the work of its dedicated volunteers and the difference they make to the services it provides as part of annual Volunteers’ Week.
PACT works with families across the south east through its adoption services, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects Alana House women’s centre and Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K), which supports children affected by domestic abuse.
Over the last year the charity’s team of around 25 volunteers gave 4,524 hours of time to help PACT provide its vital services.
These include people who help out on reception, or carry out admin and research tasks for different teams. Volunteers also help facilitate BB4K courses and drop-in sessions at Alana House as well as providing counselling at the centre and running stretch and relax exercise classes, mindfulness and sewing sessions.
Some volunteers have gone on to take up a paid role with PACT, and two were last year nominated for an Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) award.
PACT also has close links with local universities, including Oxford Brookes, Reading University and the University of East London, and arranges placements for social worker and play therapy students.
Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “We are incredibly appreciative of the efforts of all our volunteers, who really are a crucial part of the PACT team. The difference they have made to our work is amazing, particularly in our community projects where volunteers play such an important role helping out at Alana House sessions and we would struggle to run our BB4K courses without the support of our volunteers.
“Not only do our volunteers give us the gift of their time, they bring diversity and experience to our organisation and often a fresh perspective to how we work. They are also a great link back into the communities in which we are working.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers who so generously share their time, talents and enthusiasm to the benefit of our teams and the families we work with.”
Volunteer Manager Sam Ward said volunteering with PACT was a great way for people to gain new experience and skills, to enhance their CV or to support the charity and those that benefit from its services.
She added: “We are always happy to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering with us. Please also do get in touch if you have specific skills or could share something with PACT which isn’t advertised on our website – we can always match you up with a role if you are interested in helping out.”
Volunteers are given full training and support, and any travel expenses are reimbursed.
John Southern started volunteering with PACT in 2014 after he retired. He is the Receptionist at the agency’s Reading office one day a week, and also assists with various admin and research tasks for different teams.
He said he loves the routine and structure that volunteering at PACT has given him.
“The biggest problem with retirement is suddenly you have got nothing to do! Up till that point your life has been organised and structured with school, university and then working, and you build your personal life around that. Suddenly for the first time you have to take responsibility for organising your own life.”
John, who also volunteers for other organisations, said he enjoys the variety of tasks he is asked to do at PACT and the people he works with.
“When I was first looking for voluntary work I chose PACT because I really liked the idea of coming into the centre of Reading once a week and working in a busy office. Again what I hadn’t realised until I retired was that through the week during the day there are really not many people about in the suburbs, and it can be quite isolating.
“Coming here gives my week structure and I enjoy the interaction with people. It’s a lovely place to volunteer – everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and appreciative of the help I can give them. I would definitely recommend it.”
Volunteers' Week runs from 1st to 7th June and is an annual national campaign to thank volunteers for their help and to celebrate the difference they make.
Next month all PACT’s volunteers and their families will be invited to a picnic, held in conjunction with the National Apprenticeship Scheme, which organise the event, to say thank you for their contribution over the year.
For more information about Volunteers’ Week.