Could you devote just a day to volunteering and perhaps improve your job prospects at the same time?
Then thanks to a scheme being run at The Fulforth Centre in Sacriston, you can do exactly that.
Just a Day – which has been awarded over £10,300 in grant aid by Karbon Homes, is asking volunteers to give just eight hours a year to help at a local club, community event or project.
Fulforth Centre project development worker Gemma O’Brien said: “Everyone has something they can offer, even if they don’t know it yet. So, if you want to give something back to your local community, we will find something that suits you.”
The Fulforth Centre is owned and jointly managed by Sacriston Community and Sports Trust and the Sacriston Community Association. A self-sustaining charity, it provides learning, support and recreation activities to improve the lives of residents and help regenerate the village.
These low-cost sessions range from keep fit and healthy lifestyle courses, to mother and toddler clubs, art and craft courses and drop-in sessions providing advice on housing, benefits and access to local services.
Through Just a Day, volunteers are matched with projects that complement their skills set, or which offer them an opportunity to learn a new skill, with the scheme particularly aimed at attracting those who are not in education, employment or training.
Volunteers are supported to ensure the work offers a fulfilling and worthwhile experience and there’s no restriction on extending the role beyond the initial ‘just a day’ principle.
The scheme also works with volunteers to make them ‘job ready’, offering practical help on CV writing, interview techniques and other employability skills.
Gemma said: “We want to give our volunteers as much as they give us, so we’re hoping that Just a Day will ultimately contribute to upskilling people, giving them more confidence, lead to training and the opportunity to network with all the organisations that operate out of The Fulforth Centre.”
Volunteering opportunities could involve supporting the village’s popular lunch club, helping to organise community events, or carrying out reception and administrative duties at the centre.
Keen gardeners could also lend a hand with Sacriston’s Northumbria in Bloom entry, or with village plans to create a community garden and allotment.
Gemma said: “People align the skills they have with the skills they need for paid employment, not with tasks they could do as a volunteer – for instance, a mum might think she can’t manage budgets, but she’s already running a house and budgeting for that. Just a Day is all about helping people to realise their potential.
“We are a self-sustaining centre but, like probably all community centres, what often happens is that the majority of work is done by a very few volunteers.
“Because of that, we’ve become almost like a closed shop when, really, we are open to the whole community – having more volunteers will only strengthen us.
Karbon Homes’ community involvement officer, Paul Hadden, said: “The Fulforth Centre works to support and regenerate Sacriston and the wider community with an inclusive approach to the activities and workshops it provides.
“In this current climate, volunteers are key to ensuring these activities continue, keeping Sacriston a strong and vibrant community.
“For the volunteers, helping their community could lead to them learning new skills that are attractive to potential employers - giving up just one day could really change their lives.”
If you can volunteer or are interested in finding out more information, please contact The Fulforth Centre on 0191 371 0601