Cabinet backs volunteering strategy

Halifax Town Hall
Halifax Town Hall

Calderdale Council’s cabinet has approved measures to improve its record with volunteers by offering more opportunities and giving more recognition.

Coun Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden), cabinet member for communities, said the scheme offered a “more strategic approach to volunteering.”

He said: “This strategy is about the way in which we deal with volunteers within the council, which has been piecemeal to say the least.

“Our new approach aims to improve access to opportunities for volunteers within the council, to make sure our volunteers have a consistent and positive experience, and boost recognition for the amazing work that volunteers do.

Philip Singh, volunteer coordinator for the countryside and woodlands team, spoke about how volunteering for the council helped to transform his life.

He started volunteering for the council three years ago after completing a zoology degree.

Upon leaving university he could not work due to ill health and was advised by his doctor to take up volunteering to ease himself back into work.

“I always wanted to work in countryside management,” he said.

“By volunteering I was able to develop my skills and expand upon a lot of things I’d learnt from education, and it gave me a boost in confidence after being out of work for so long.

“After about 14 months, I applied for the job of volunteer co-ordinator and I currently manage around 70 volunteers,” he said.

“I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for volunteering with Calderdale Council - it taught me so many skills that education could not provide me with.”

The council is also developing a new webpage where people can express their interest in volunteering, a handbook for volunteers to help them to make the most of their experience, and more ways to formally recognise the work of volunteers.