AN EVENT aimed at showcasing the work of voluntary organisations in the Darlington area has been described as the most successful yet.
A total of 68 organisations were represented at this year’s Volunteering Fair at the Dolphin Centre, compared to 57 last year.
The annual event is organised by Darlington Cares to promote volunteering opportunities, share good practice, and build connections.
Organiser Chelsea Johnson, Darlington Cares Programme Officer, said: “The turnout is incredible. It gets bigger every year and shows the health of our voluntary sector and how it is enriching the local community in so many ways.
“When you see new volunteers finding the right opportunity for them and signing up to give their time to make a difference, it makes it all worthwhile.”
Darlington MP Peter Gibson, who has volunteered as a member of Rotary for 15 years, said: “It’s tremendously important to have a one-stop shop like this where voluntary organisations can find new volunteers.”
Mr Gibson, who highlighted the importance of the voluntary sector in his maiden speech in the House of Commons, added: “It’s so important that those who have the time and ability to put something back into their local community find the right opportunities and today’s event is invaluable in that respect.”
Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “We have made it a priority as a local authority to bring the voluntary sector together and encourage greater interaction. It’s wonderful that there are more organisations represented this year than ever before.”
County Durham Community Foundation, one of the key supporters of the fair, was represented by Donor Services Manager, Naomi Stevens, who said: “For us, it’s about connecting with local groups who are doing fantastic work around Darlington and seeing how we can support them.”
One of the organisations attending was Healthwatch Darlington and its Volunteer and Outreach Co-ordinator, Jemma Austin, described the fair as “one of the best events of the year”.
“It’s a wonderful chance to meet members of the public who would like to volunteer, and for us to interact with other voluntary organisations,” she said.
Darlington Street Champions, which has around 300 volunteers picking up litter, was another organisation to benefit from being at the fair.
Spokesperson Dawn Storr said: “Within half an hour of the event opening, we had three new volunteers signed up. That shows how valuable the event is in raising awareness of the great work taking place.”
- Darlington Cares is a not-for-profit organisation, working closely with the local authority, public services and the voluntary sector to identify key areas of need in the borough. To find out more go to www.darlingtoncares.co.uk