The 1 st – 7 th June 2021 marked National Volunteers’ Week in the UK. The Archdiocese of Cardiff has used this opportunity to celebrate the tireless efforts of each and every one of its volunteers. The Archdiocese welcomed nominations from all parishes, schools and supporting organisations, giving them a chance to say ‘thank you’ to special people who do so much throughout the year.
Volunteering is a key part of the life of the diocese, from flower arrangers to cleaners; ushers to school governors; from ‘meeting and greeting’ to serving coffee. Day-to-day life in our Church communities would be impossible without the efforts of those who give up their time to help out. These efforts have become even more visible throughout the past year, with volunteers stepping up to support the most vulnerable in society during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For National Volunteers’ Week, the Archdiocese welcomed nominations to recognise just some of those wonderful people who have gone the extra mile to help others. Over 50 nominations were received across six categories:
- Young People (up to 25 years) – recognising the contribution of young people from school, college, university, employment and beyond.
- Parish Volunteer of the Year – recognising the contribution of individuals.
- Volunteer Team – recognising teams with a particular focus.
- Specialist Volunteers – Health & Safety; Safeguarding; Fundraising, Digital Support. Celebrating those who take on roles with distinct responsibilities.
- Emergency Voluntary Response – Covid-19 – responses to the pandemic in their many forms. Also recognising responses to flooding and other emergencies.
- Lifetime Volunteer – recognising those that have always been at the forefront of church and community life.
The range of nominations reflect the diversity of voluntary activity being undertaken. Within the Young People’s category, for example, five nominations were received, each reflecting a different skillset being used for the good of the community.
Chloe Jones (at Immaculate Conception, Tredegar), James Bibey, Sian Connolly
At St Alban’s, Pontypool, Lola Allen helped ensure a COVID-safe reopening of the church as a Steward following safety protocols. Likewise, at St Joseph’s, Cardiff, James Bibey ensured the church could reopen safely as both a Steward and as member of the cleaning team, he also performs as Parish organist. In Rhymney, Chloe Jones supported with her IT knowhow to help live stream Mass online, and ran quizzes to ensure parishioners could stay connected. From St David’s Catholic Sixth Form College, Sian Connolly committed many hours of support to the CARE Project in Machen, James Bibey offering food and prescription deliveries alongside phone support to vulnerable people. Both Sian and Chloe committed to these roles whilst studying for their A Levels.
The youngest volunteer recognised was Lidia Michniok, a Year 4 pupil at St Francis Xavier RC Primary School, Hereford who singlehandedly raised £91 for the ‘Walk for Water’ CAFOD Ethiopia appeal through selling handmade felt water droplets.
Beyond the nominated individuals, the Archdiocese wishes to thank everyone who has volunteered their time this year.
Thanks to your efforts, people who would have gone hungry have been supported with care packages, or been able to afford essentials through the Archbishop’s Food Voucher Scheme. Thanks to the time you have offered, people have been able to stay connected through the Staying Together While Apart project. These projects would not have been possible without the huge commitment of volunteers across the diocese.
We believe that thanks to everyone’s collective efforts over 60,000 people have been helped during the course of the pandemic.
Over the last 12 months Archbishop George has repeatedly highlighted the work of volunteers, saying
“Those who serve their community are often called ‘unsung heroes’. It is my hope that parish priests and volunteers, who have done so much to support others at this time, appreciate that collectively they are undertaking an ‘heroic’ effort combating the effects of the pandemic. I want to thank everyone, known and unknown, for all that they are doing in support of others.”
When commenting on the number of awards made to young people, Archbishop George said,
“I am grateful to everyone’s outstanding work in our parish and school communities during COVID-19. Moreover, the commitment and dedication of our young people is an example and inspiration to us all”.
For further information on volunteering within the Archdiocese of Cardiff please contact Gareth Simpson, Volunteering & Project Manager firstname.lastname@example.org 02920 379483