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Invaluable contribution of Suffolk volunteers celebrated for campaign week

PUBLISHED: 16:02 07 June 2018

Suffolk Mind volunteers gather for a special afternoon tea to mark National Volunteers' Week Picture: KRISTINA BRINKLEY

Suffolk Mind volunteers gather for a special afternoon tea to mark National Volunteers' Week Picture: KRISTINA BRINKLEY

KRISTINA BRINKLEY

Selfless volunteers across Suffolk who give up their time to help others have been recognised as part of a celebration campaign.

Former chief executive Julie Cave hands Rascha Zurakowski an award to celebrate her contribution to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Picture: NSFTFormer chief executive Julie Cave hands Rascha Zurakowski an award to celebrate her contribution to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Picture: NSFT

As National Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7) draws to a close, organisations in the county have praised their dedicated helpers, while those in the roles have spoken about why they offer their support for free.

Mental health charity Suffolk Mind has 82 volunteers taking part in 16 different roles from administration to helping with children’s activities, as well as eight volunteer trustees.

Andrew Brown, 54, started volunteering at Suffolk Mind a year ago because he felt he would not be able to cope with the pressures of a full-time job but still wanted to make a contribution.

He said: “A year down the line, I have gained more confidence and I am able to manage stress more effectively. I am much happier now and have a much more positive outlook on life.”

Sue Ryder volunteer Joan Mills has given 20 years' service Picture: SUE RYDERSue Ryder volunteer Joan Mills has given 20 years' service Picture: SUE RYDER

In a survey, 96% of the charity’s volunteers said the role had a positive impact on them personally, while 87% said it improved their professional prospects.

The charity marked the campaign by hosting an afternoon tea for its volunteers.

Citizens Advice Ipswich relies on 60 volunteers who give up more than 11,000 hours each year to help people in the community struggling with various issues including debt, housing, benefit and employment.

Nicky Willshere, chief officer, said: “Our volunteers make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

Bosses at St Elizabeth Hospice have expressed their thanks to the charity’s 1,500 helpers who give their time to improve care for terminally ill patients in Suffolk and their families.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust held a special lunch to thank its 65 volunteers, including Rascha Zurakowsk.

Ms Zurakowski, from Halesworth, helps out two days a week as a ‘meeter and greeter’ in the trust’s Waveney Centre for Change and Wellbeing.

“I really enjoy talking to people and communicating with service users,” said Ms Zurakowski, who took on the role after benefitting from the trust’s services.

Joan Mills has volunteered for Sue Ryder The Chantry, a specialist neurological care unit in Ipswich, for 20 years.

The 93-year-old helps out the day services team every Wednesday.

Mrs Mills took on the role in 1998 following the death of her husband and after spotting a ‘volunteers wanted’ poster at a local fete.

Treasured by patients and staff alike, Mrs Mills was presented with an award this week in recognition of her long service.

She said: “I really enjoy my role at Sue Ryder The Chantry and could write a book about my experiences from the last 20 years.

“I always feel appreciated here and that I have been of help.”

Day services manager Margaret Burgess said: “Joan is helpful, approachable and such a cheerful lady to be around. We are bowled over by her dedication – she comes to the centre to help on a Wednesday afternoon come rain or shine.”

The chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, Robert Morton, has also commended the trust’s volunteers, who take on a variety of roles including community first responders, drivers and chaplains.

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