SPECIAL FEATURE: The value of volunteering - campaign for Sid Valley HELP continues

Rita Myers and Jan MacGregor. Picture: Contributed

Rita Myers and Jan MacGregor. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Sid Valley HELP is campaigning to raise £60,000 by April next year to secure the charity’s future for the next three years. In the coming weeks, the Herald will be exploring the charity’s work. This week, the service’s inspirational volunteers have shared some of their stories.

Rita Myers and Jan MacGregor. Picture: Contributed

Rita Myers and Jan MacGregor. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

The Sid Valley HELP (SVH) scheme provides free, independent and confidential signposting and advice for residents who are ill, lonely or in difficult circumstances.

The dream is to bring all the area’s voluntary services under one umbrella where organisations can all work together, helping to fill the gaps in the health sector.

The charity is calling on local people to support its fundraising drive; but it also hopes people will join the town’s growing army of volunteers, all of whom play a part in making the valley a wonderful place to live.

Deirdre Hounsom joined SVH as a promotions volunteer in May and is set to become a trustee.

Sidmouth Herald and Sid Valley HELP have joined forces. Picture: Archant

Sidmouth Herald and Sid Valley HELP have joined forces. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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Six months on, she has praised the charity for the positive impact it can have not just on the lives of its service users but also its voluntary workers.

Deirdre said: “Some years ago when my husband suffered a brain haemorrhage, an organisation like SVH would have helped us enormously.

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“When your life is turned upside down, you desperately need someone to listen and help find the right support.

“It’s because of our experience that SVH is close to my heart and such a vital addition to our community.”

Jan MacGregor and Rita Myers have been volunteers since the charity was formed, helping to set up the health and care information onto the database.

They volunteer their time every Tuesday morning in the Leigh Browne Room at the Dissenters’ Chapel, meeting with people who come in for help and information.

Jan said: “With time to spare, volunteering gives me the opportunity to do something useful.

“I’ve met some amazing people and hopefully have been able to help the community through the advice and information service we provide.”

Rita added: “I have been involved in many different types of volunteering through the years and feel this has enabled me to pass on various aspects of experience and empathy for the benefit of others.

“Hopefully this will be an asset to SVH and its future expansion.”

Di Fuller, chairman of trustees said: “Volunteers are essential for our organisation, either supporting the management group or providing face-to-face support for our clients.

“We are currently looking for help with promotion, organising events, campaigning and fundraising, as well as providing time for either of the twice weekly sessions when we are open for clients.

“Full training and support is provided for all roles.”

Later in the autumn, SVH will be recruiting volunteers who would like to support people who are lonely. If you’re interested in helping please let them know.

If you would like to donate to the charity, please make cheques out to Sid Valley HELP and send to Woodpeckers, Knowle Drive, Sidmouth, EX10 or drop it into the Leigh Browne Room at the top of the High street on Tuesday or Thursday mornings between 10am and noon.

Anyone interested in volunteering can visit sidvalleyhelp.org.uk, email sidvalleyHELP@gmail.com or can call Di Fuller on 07786 816890.

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