The Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service column with Karen Weaver

Friends of THE LOCAL FUND with the first grant recipients. Plans are underway to boost the fund for 2019.
Friends of THE LOCAL FUND with the first grant recipients. Plans are underway to boost the fund for 2019.

It was an interesting challenge to be asked by reporter Finola Fitzpatrick for my New Year wishes for 2019 for the Harrogate District. This coincided with me completing 10 years at Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service this month and so was a good opportunity to reflect (albeit with a short deadline!).

As I said to Finola, I’m still learning about the immense contribution made by people from all walks of life to support their fellow citizens in our area.

Whether they call themselves volunteers or not, everyone who gives even a little of their time, their money or their skills is making a difference and helping those who are lonely, struggling to make ends meet or to cope with life’s challenges.

I’m really hopeful that all the communities of our district continue to be kind and generous places to live, but this can’t be taken for granted. In practice austerity is continuing to have a big impact on both people and organisations, and more and more is being expected of the voluntary and community sector for less.

More than ever we need to grow local giving so that we can really help our amazing small voluntary and community groups to make a difference. The start of 2019 has seen HARCVS involved in a flurry of plans for events and activities over the year ahead to support this ambition so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some dates for the diary.

This month marks a year since the launch of THE LOCAL FUND for the Harrogate District and the Fund partners are working really hard to bring in additional contributions so that this year we can improve on the £40,000 given out to 22 groups in 2018. At 6pm on Wednesday, February 5 we’re having a first anniversary event kindly hosted by the Majestic Hotel and attended by the new Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Jo Ropner.

If you’d like to find out more about THE LOCAL FUND please come along, whether you are from a group who might benefit or a potential donor. We’ll also be sharing more details of a new Celebration of Volunteering event taking place on Friday, June 7 to mark Volunteers Week, also being supported by the Majestic Hotel.

Growing the number of people volunteering is just as important as growing local giving, and HARCVS is also involved in plans to set up a Good Gym in Harrogate.

Working with the national Good Gym charity we are keen to see this very innovative model up and running in our area, as it will give a great boost to volunteering.

The concept is to combine getting fit with doing good and over 140 runners have already signed up so there’s clearly interest.

The next step is to raise the funds needed to cover three years of running costs.

If you want to find out more or think you can help with this there is an Information Event at the Everyman Cinema on Wednesday, January 23 at 7pm.

As well as the big events we’re involved in, our 2019 workshops programme is getting underway, with sessions on developing employer supported volunteering and marketing, and the first of our free quarterly Intro Sessions on Wednesday, January 30 at 11am. These popular one hour sessions give a quick briefing on all you need to know about the wonderful voluntary and community sector in the Harrogate District.

Full details about all our opportunities to volunteer and support voluntary and community groups via our website www.harcvs.org.uk or @harcvs