People who volunteer their time are the backbone of sport and physical activity in Greater Manchester (GM). Helpers, volunteers, champions, referees - all leaders in their own right and all sharing their time with people to transform their community or sport. The wellbeing of GM’s residents depends on how we enable more people, and a greater diversity of people, to volunteer within sport and physical activity.
Volunteers are a diverse group of people however, some demographic groups are less likely to volunteer than others. A more diverse voluntary workforce, that better represents its community, can support and encourage people from under-represented groups to engage in activity. This means, that by improving the diversity of volunteers more people from under-represented groups are able to benefit both from volunteering, and from having more opportunities to be active. To find out more about volunteers in Greater Manchester, click here.
We all have a role to play in rebuilding the health of people and communities across Greater Manchester, but we need to help people find the role that suits them. Whether it’s inviting fellow parents for a walk around the park, leading armchair exercises or taking temperatures and tea orders, each person who gives their time is key to building healthy and active communities.
We know that the benefits of volunteering can be life changing; it can help people find employment and help to reduce health inequalities through the purpose, connections and value that sharing time with people brings (find more benefits here). As such, we want to help more people in Greater Manchester find their role within the system to help more people experience these benefits.
To do this, we want to ensure that everyone has the necessary support to ensure that the time that they give is valued and appreciated. There are endless ways for people to volunteer in their community but helping people to feel safe, comfortable and confident is the first step to people engaging with their community.
We’ve compiled a list of resources to support you to volunteer or get involved in your local community. There is no one size fits all to meeting the needs of local people, so whether its champions training, community engagement or connecting with local networks, if you are looking for guidance on volunteering, or connecting with your local CVS (Community Voluntary Support) organisation, you will find information to help you below.
Jen is a carer for her husband and felt guilty about being away from him and taking time for herself. However, she’s learned that as a carer she has to take time for herself to help her be the best support to her husband that she can be. Through volunteering with the On Your Bike programme, she’s found something that she loves to do and an extra support network for herself, that she didn’t even realise she needed.
Lindsey wanted to improve the health and wellbeing of her local community in Burnage, Manchester, by setting up a parkrun, but was worried about how much time she could commit to it. With work commitments and family responsibilities filling her plate, she was unsure how realistic taking on more would be for her. Despite her uncertainty, Lindsey decided that it’s important to make time for things that you value, after all, we're all busy! Read her story.
For Kiera, who has multiple learning disabilities, sport was the first place she was able to make friends after being bullied at school, and it was seeing her coaches helping others that inspired her to start her own journey. Volunteering and coaching people of all ages, as her mother Jacqui says, has been the making of her. People with learning disabilities are often told that they can’t do things, but can’t certainly isn’t in Kiera’s vocabulary.
Having a disability had meant Katrina had been verbally abused a lot of her life, causing her self confidence to be rock bottom, and meaning she only spoke to those in her close family. Whilst Breakthrough were supporting Katrina in finding employment, she started volunteering with the UK Cheerleading Association, which helped her to grow in confidence, gain lifelong friends, and find employment, doing a job which she loves. Read her story here.