Volunteering Matters celebrated ten years of inspiring volunteers in Southend helping families in need of personal support to turn around their lives.

Our  Volunteers Supporting Families (VsF)  project sees us partner  with councils in order to match trained inspiring volunteers to help struggling families to turn things around. Independent and seen as only having the child’s best interests at heart, they are in a unique position to build the necessary trust and provide the transformative support that families need to become more stable, resilient and happier. VSF is an effective and proven programme that reduces the number of children at risk of going into care.

In the past decade 260 volunteers in Southend have supported nearly 400 local families, helping them to re-shape their lives. The volunteers have also self-transformed, moving on  to careers in social care and schools.

Emma Thomas-Hancock, Director of Delivery for Volunteering Matters, said: “We are very proud to have been running this project for ten years. We have a wonderful local team of staff and volunteers, and we are grateful to Southend Borough Council for their continued support. Our staff – Jacki Simpson, Jenna Rayner and Cathie Whitehead – deserve enormous credit for enabling this success.”

Emma adds: “VsF provides a unique opportunity for local residents to empower each other to achieve happier, healthier lifestyles and routines. The dual benefit for families and volunteers is clear: we are now in a wonderful position where the project has reaped what it has sewn by former volunteers moving on to work for our charity in Southend and members of families who have utilised the project volunteering and turning around lives themselves.”

Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “Volunteering is not just a brilliant way of helping others, it also helps people learn new skills and experiences, meet new people and even develop skills for further employment. “Charities often rely heavily on volunteers and Volunteer UK makes a real tangible difference to families across the UK and more specifically, here in Southend. The figures speak for themselves and we are delighted to celebrate the 10 th birthday with all the wonderful volunteers and commissioners.”

The local volunteers and commissioners at Porters Civic House, Southend-on-Sea, The Worshipful The Mayor, Cllr John Lamb attended, along with Mayoress Pat Lamb and Cllr Kevin Robinson, all of whom led the appreciation and celebrations of the selfless work put in by the local volunteers and commissioners.