A message from Chris Board, Chief Executive of Autism Sussex
Volunteers’ Week is a fantastic opportunity to thank you, our tireless volunteers, for your enormous contribution to Autism Sussex over the past year. In the past twelve months 105 new volunteers have joined us and helped in a variety of ways, from supporting people in training workshops and support groups to fundraising in our charity shops.
We’ve opened three new charity shops, in Uckfield, Peacehaven and Portslade and thanks to enthusiastic local people coming forward to volunteer in these areas, the shops have become well established and really taken off. This helps us to increase both our profile and our fundraising.
Our charity shops simply couldn’t function without our huge team of retail volunteers. Each of our seven charity shops receives on average 90 hours of shop floor support each week; this is a phenomenal 32,760 hours of volunteer time donated to us every year. This figure doesn’t include additional time from the Volunteer Van Companions who help collect donations or the Volunteer Upcyclers who makeover donated furniture, who have helped raise a staggering £15,000 of extra income in the process.
In our retail sector a number of volunteers have developed in their roles and are now paid members of staff. Congratulations to Paul Spratt, Lorraine Gray, Emma Sallis and Gary Musgrave for your individual achievements in successfully applying for paid positions.
In our services across East and West Sussex, committed volunteers continue to support service users and trainees where and when needed. This enables us to provide more person-centred support and means that more people can participate in our sessions. A positive culture of volunteering continues to grow at our Roebuck Resource Centre in Hastings while regular volunteer support is becoming a feature at our Carlton Centre in Brighton and in support groups across both counties.
An exciting new departure for us this past year was to start involving volunteers at Margaret House, our extra care scheme in Uckfield. We have developed several rewarding volunteer roles there and we hope that support from people like you will provide something extra for the residents, be it more trips out, extra activities or simply some conversation and company.
We are also very proud of the diversity of our volunteers. You come to us from a range of different places, all with your own motivations for sharing your skills with us. We have students from local sixth forms, colleges and universities, Duke of Edinburgh participants, exchange students from France and Germany, and people referred from other charities, all of whom have brought something unique to us, whilst gaining very personal experiences.
Here at Autism Sussex we are particularly proud of our volunteers with autism, who utilise their unique insight and knowledge to support others. And of course, our many volunteers with a connection to autism – a child, a sibling or a friend – who just want to ‘give something back’.
This week I would like to thank all our volunteers for your invaluable contribution to our organisation. Your passion and commitment really makes a difference to the lives of people affected by autism and we are always grateful for your ongoing support.