Northamptonshire County Council is encouraging more people to get involved and volunteer.
Volunteers are needed for various roles across the council, including in libraries, country parks and the archives service.
Being a volunteer is a chance for people to gain experience and new skills, receive training, grow in confidence, make new friends and also do something worthwhile.
Volunteers make a significant contribution to many council services.
Those who volunteer have supported the county’s 36 libraries for several years, and there are now almost 600 volunteers working in a variety of ways such as helping people to use a computer, running a homework club, helping in the library shop or listening to children read.
Without their support, the council would be unable to continue to offer these types of extra activities which many library users rely on and enjoy.
Cabinet member for customers and communities Cllr Heather Smith said: “Our library volunteers are a great example of how a volunteering scheme can make a real difference - not just to council services, but to the local community and of course, the people who actually get involved and volunteer.
“Without their time and effort, libraries simply couldn’t afford to offer all the extra activities and events that library users rely on.
“In fact, we are currently looking for another 200 volunteers to help the libraries deliver even more.”
Other council services are also looking for volunteers.
Local history fans might be interested in volunteering for the council’s archives and heritage service. From helping to preserve the archives to making the collections more accessible, the service needs people to get involved and volunteer at Northamptonshire Record Office, which holds more than 800 years of the county’s heritage.
And those who enjoy the great outdoors could consider volunteering in one of the county’s country parks. It’s an opportunity to work with the country park rangers to help develop and enhance the parks as well as to get fit, learn some new skills and help local wildlife.
There are also opportunities within emergency planning and Northamptonshire Sport with more to be added in coming months.
Cllr Smith said: “There has never been a better time to get involved and volunteer.
“It’s a chance to gain experience and new skills as well as meet new people and do something rewarding and worthwhile in your local community.
“Volunteers can come from different backgrounds, walks of life, age groups, and have different abilities; everyone has something to offer and who knows where it might lead.”
To find out more about volunteering, visit the council website at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/getinvolved.
New webpages are now online giving details of what opportunities are available as well as a new video of local volunteers sharing their experiences and thoughts on volunteering.
Here are examples of some people who are already volunteering in the library service:
Brian is a homework club leader at Corby Library.
He has been a volunteer at Corby Library for about 18 months. He found out about volunteering when he visited the library to return a book and picked up a leaflet.
Brian said: “I help with the homework club because I believe education is vitally important.
“It’s a hard world out there our young people are facing. They are at school all day and then come here to study well into the evening, and if they’re willing to work that hard, we owe it to them to help in any way we can.
“Also from the youngsters’ point of view, they sit in school all day long.
“They leave at about half past three and come in here to the library, and stay here working until half past five, which is a jolly long day.
“If they’re prepared to put themselves out to that extent, the very least we can do is to help them with homework and in any possible way that we can. Education is never, ever wasted, and today, it is more vital and important than ever.”
Sarah runs a rhymetime session at Oundle Library.
She runs a rhymetime session every Tuesday for half an hour. The sessions are aimed at pre-school children who get the chance to sing songs and nursery rhymes and play instruments.
Sarah said: “I love it. I get a lot out of it and the kids are fantastic. It gives you a really good feeling and everyone appreciates you hugely. What could be better?
“I started it four years ago I think, before I had my son, then I had a year off when I had him and then I’ve been back doing it for two years since then.
“My reason for joining really was that I don’t work.
“I’m a mum-of-three and I like being involved in the community.
“I have been offered the opportunity to do things paid at different places, but I’d rather do the library because it gives a really good feeling and everyone appreciates you hugely. What could be better?”
Ahlam is a library assistant at Northampton Central Library.
She volunteered at the Central Library to get work experience and this led to her getting a permanent job there.
Ahlam said: “I got my job through volunteering. It gave me a little taste of what library assistants do.
“If you’re like me, and you’re a little indecisive about what to get into without committing yourself, volunteering is a really good idea.
“With the county council it’s official. I like that it was a proper letter, ‘You’re volunteering’, it wasn’t like some obscure shop in the middle of nowhere, this was recognised work.
“In my case, I’m really fortunate that it led to full-time employment.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that without volunteering.”