“Why I support the ‘Big Thank You to Volunteers’ campaign”

10th September 2020

by Gary Thomas, Helpforce winner 2019 for ‘Volunteer of the Year’

I feel like it was just yesterday that I received a phone call from my daughters, Katie and Rachel, telling me that I won the “Volunteer of the Year – Helpforce Champions Award” while I was resting after going through a life-saving surgery. So much has changed but not the spirit of volunteerism. In fact, when I learned how nearly a million people in the UK stepped up to give people the help that they needed the most during the peak of Covid-19, I felt extremely proud of all of the volunteers and I wanted to thank each of them from the bottom of my heart.

That’s why I fully support Helpforce’s latest campaign: “The Big Thank You to Volunteers”, which aims to acknowledge all the brave volunteers who have given, and still give, so much to help staff, patients and our communities.

As a volunteer myself, I know how important it is for us to know that what we do makes a difference to our community, NHS staff and patients. Their smiles and thank you messages give us the confidence that our support makes a difference to them.

To this day, I still can’t believe that I won the award. I was humbled to receive national recognition for the work that I do. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my life.

I understand that because of Covid-19, Helpforce couldn’t organise the annual Helpforce Champions Awards but I’m glad to know that the charity has found a creative way to thank all the volunteers this year. The NHS is full of remarkable people; I know there are many volunteers and teams that deserve to be recognised for their tremendous contribution to patients’ health and wellbeing and I know being recognised would mean the world to them, because it did to me. 

Therefore, I would urge everyone to join this campaign, to take a moment to let the volunteers know that what they do matters. 

About Gary:

Since 2015, he has been volunteering at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. He uses his experience as an amputee to support patients on the vascular wards, cardiology wards, and with the palliative care team. He also helps patients who have dementia or learning difficulties. He shares his experiences with amputees or patients who are about to become amputees, new amputees, who aren’t coping very well after the amputation.

About the Big Thank You Campaign:

Helpforce is encouraging as many people as possible to nominate volunteers for the Helpforce Wall of Fame, which will feature on their website during November. 

Helpforce welcomes submissions for ‘The Big Thank You to volunteers’ from the 1 July to 15 Sept 2020, and the stories will be featured on the Wall of Fame on the Helpforce website from 2nd November 2020. 

The categories are:

  • Outstanding innovation and responding to Covid19
  • Encouraging Inclusion & Diversity 
  • Going the extra mile
  • Teamwork and bringing people together

To learn more about the categories and tips to write up the submissions, please visit https://helpforce.community/thebigthankyoutovolunteers/

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