According to 2017 Office of National Statistics figures, volunteering contributes an estimated £22.6 billion to the UK economy each year.
However, volunteering is about so much more than the fiscal value it represents.
This week has been Volunteers Week, which celebrates and thanks the 11.9 million people in the UK who formally volunteer every single month. People cite all sorts of benefits to volunteering, including helping others less fortunate or without a voice, having a chance to socialise and get to know their local community, and to gain confidence and self-esteem or use their professional skills and knowledge to benefit others.
Seaford Lifeguards is one of the 400 groups Sussex Community Foundation funded last year for whom volunteers are their absolute lifeblood and who could not exist without them.
The Sussex Flood Rescue team is part of Seaford Lifeguards and is currently made up of twelve volunteer water rescue technicians from the various lifeguard clubs and organisations within Sussex. It is part of a network of volunteer teams, all ready to respond to major flood events, such as Cumbria and York.
The team supports people affected by flooding, across Sussex. However, the group was only just managing to get by with the minimum equipment to safely operate, and wanted to supplement their equipment to increase effectiveness and capability. The grant from our Rampion Fund was to buy life-saving and personal protective equipment so that volunteers can carry out their job effectively and safely.
One of their volunteers is Ella (pictured here).
“I have been involved in volunteering for a while now, originally as part of Seaford Lifeguards where I still volunteer as a beach lifeguard during the summer. More recently, I have moved onto the charity’s management team and have completed my training to join the newly-formed Sussex Flood Rescue Unit,” says Ella. “Volunteering gives me great satisfaction, especially in my more recent volunteer role as a flood rescue technician. Being on-call for flood events as a volunteer is a real challenge but, when we are deployed and get to work, it is hugely rewarding.”
“Being a volunteer has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t usually have, such as gaining qualifications, experience, meeting new people, as well as exciting and testing situations.”
“I’m very proud of being a volunteer and I really believe everyone should try it at some point. Both Seaford Lifeguards and the Sussex Flood Rescue Unit are always looking for volunteers to help with not only the operations but also with the work that goes on behind the scenes - fundraising and management. Teams like us rely solely on grants and fundraising so we are hugely grateful for the recent support from Sussex Community Foundation and the Rampion grant for essential lifesaving equipment!”
To find out more about Seaford Lifeguards, visit www.seafordlifeguards.org and don’t forget our next deadline for grant applications is Friday 14th September – www.sussexgiving.org.uk