people flying the flag for the Big Society
DAVID Cameron's 'Big
Society' model, the coalition policy ideal that aims to empower
local people and communities, is being embraced by young people from
the North West and across the UK, according to a new survey.
To mark National Volunteers' Week, a new survey of volunteers
carried out by national disability charity Vitalise, which runs the
Sandpipers respite break centre in Southport, has discovered that
young volunteers are leading the way when it comes to improving
themselves; and society.
The survey highlighted the particular challenges faced by younger
people in getting a foothold in the world of work. Over half the
16 to 25 year olds surveyed were unemployed, compared with less than a
quarter of 26 to 45 year olds. For 20% of 16 to 25 year olds, volunteering
with Vitalise had been their only experience of a work environment
However, the younger volunteers not in work remained upbeat, with
84% of the 16 to 25 year olds believing that volunteering had improved
their prospects of getting paid work. Of the 16 to 25 year olds now in
work, nearly half said that volunteering had helped them gain paid
employment and 80% believed that volunteering had improved their
prospects of advancement in their jobs.
Vitalise runs the largest residential volunteer programme of any UK
charity. Each year the charity's army of volunteers give a total of
over 4,000 weeks of their time in order to live and work at
Sandpipers and the charity's 2 other respite break centres for
people with disabilities and carers. The volunteers are integral to Vitalise's mission to enhance the lives of people with disabilities
and carers by providing vital opportunities for social interaction.
The volunteers enable Sandpipers' guests to take full advantage of
the inclusive social activities and excursions provided by the
Across all age groups, the personal benefits of volunteering were
very clear. Over 99% of the respondents said that volunteering for
Vitalise had improved their understanding and attitude towards
people with disabilities, with 84% saying it had that improved their
understanding and attitude towards diverse nationalities and
cultures. Over 90% said that they felt more confident and
well-rounded as a result of volunteering. And when it comes to
improving society, the motivational effect of volunteering was also
very clear: 80% of the volunteers surveyed said that volunteering
had inspired them to play a greater part in society and get more
involved in their local communities.
Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:- "This
current generation of young people is so often demonised by society
and the media, but our survey shows they have a thing or two to
teach the rest of us when it comes to making the world a better
place. As a charity our aim is to improve the quality of life
of people with disabilities by providing them with revitalising
experiences, and it is safe to say that without the contribution of
our volunteers we would not be able to achieve that mission.
What's particularly gratifying about this survey is that it shows
that volunteers are benefitting just as much as from the
volunteering experience as the people they are supporting. Not only
do volunteers become more optimistic about their own futures, but
they are also inspired to play a role in improving society too.
Vitalise's volunteers are an incredibly diverse bunch, coming from a
wide range of backgrounds, ages and nationalities, and the vast
majority of them come away energised and enriched by the experience.
This year Vitalise celebrates its 50th birthday. We owe our very
existence to the inspirational efforts of our founding volunteers
all those years ago, so in that same spirit I hope this survey will
inspire many more people to try their hand at volunteering and take
advantage of the many life-enhancing benefits it provides."
Vitalise Vice President Esther Rantzen CBE also commented on the
findings:- "Finding ways to support some of the most
vulnerable and isolated people in society is an issue I'm passionate
about and volunteering has a hugely important part to play in
opening up social opportunities for disabled and older people. This
is why I find the results of Vitalise's survey so inspiring. Younger
people are defying society's perception of them and setting a
brilliant example for the rest of us to follow. Not only are they
determined to forge a more productive future for themselves, but
they are also exhibiting an equal determination to improve society
for everyone. As the population gets older and families more
fragmented, the need for people to consider the needs of others will
become ever more important. I applaud the UK's volunteers for
showing us one way to make the world a better place."
Echoing the findings of the survey, recent volunteer Leah Bevan
said:- "For me the experience was transformative, it gave me a
huge confidence boost and a greater awareness of the challenges some
people face in life. However it also gave me a great sense of
optimism watching people overcoming barriers and the volunteers,
staff and carers helping them. I felt part of a team who were making
a real difference and felt empowered and enthusiastic at a time when
I felt quite disconnected from things."
Vitalise is a national charity providing essential respite breaks
for people with disabilities; including Alzheimer's and dementia;
and carers at Sandpipers and two other accessible centres in
Chigwell in Essex and Southampton. Each centre provides 24-hour
nursing care on call, personal support and a range of accessible
excursions, activities and entertainment. Vitalise; formerly the
Winged Fellowship Trust; is celebrating its 50th anniversary in
People wanting more information about volunteering for Vitalise are
requested to call:- 0303 303 0147,
email or go
PRIZE TO SUPPORT EMERGING MUSIC TALENT ON MERSEYSIDE
FOLLOWING on from the great
success of 2012's Merseyrail Unsigned competition, Merseyrail are
pleased to announce the launch of the MERSEYRAIL SOUND STATION PRIZE
- presented by the innovative new Merseyrail Sound Station network.
This is an opportunity for emerging Merseyside musicians to WIN A
YEAR OF PROFESSIONAL MUSIC INDUSTRY MANAGEMENT AND RECORDING TIME.
The music industry is constantly evolving and this prize will give
one lucky artist the opportunity to be guided by some of the most
experienced industry names for a full year. All interested musicians
need to do is pop along to one of the SOUND STATION UPLOAD LOCATIONS
on the Merseyrail network and film themselves performing an original
track, before posting it on the Merseyrail Sound Station Facebook
The upload locations can be found at the following stations -
Liverpool Central, Liverpool South Parkway, Maghull, Southport,
Kirkby, Ormskirk, Wallasey Grove Road, Hoylake, Rock Ferry & Formby.
Full entry details and Terms & Conditions can be found at:-
The winners of last year's prize BEACH SKULLS - who also featured as
session guests on the first Merseyrail Sound Station Podcast - said
of winning last year's award:- "It was a watershed moment, an
indicator that what we were doing was pretty rad and that people
were digging our vibe and what we are about. It got us attention
through the coverage in the local papers, the opportunity to record
at Rockfield Studios where Oasis had recorded and a sound, shiny
The innovative, Merseyrail Sound Station platform is here to
celebrate emerging new music from Merseyside. Each month sees a free
podcast available to download from
iTunes, featuring exclusive live sessions with some of the region's
most exciting new bands, the latest new sounds from across the Merseyrail network, and breaking new music news from Liverpool.
The website will also feature photos and live videos from
the sessions, as well as interviews with the bands taking part.
The second edition of the
Merseyrail Sound Station Podcast is available NOW. It features GREAT
PLAIN SUNDANCE live in session and some of the best emerging new
Merseyrail Sound Station is recorded at Tankfield Recording Studio,
based at Fallen Industries Studios, Wirral, with esteemed Record
Producer Michael Johnson. Michael has previously worked with artists
such as New Order, Soft Cell and Joy Division. The project
underlines Merseyrail's commitment to supporting creativity in the
region and working in partnership with local business.
Maarten Spaargaren, managing director of Merseyrail, commented:-
"Sound Station is an original, clever initiative, which helps us
connect with all the budding young musicians out there waiting for
their big break. We're very happy to be behind this promotion."
Visit MerseyrailSoundStation.com where the first two editions of the
Merseyrail Sound Station Podcast are available, as well as full
details on the Merseyrail Sound Station Prize.
50 years of
laying the foundations of learning
ON Friday, 7 June 2013,
marks 50 years since the foundation stone was laid at Garston Church
of England Primary School, and since then it has educated around
14,000 children. m Local people purchased 400,000 bricks costing 6p
each (2.5p new money) to cover the £12,300 funding shortfall, and
enable it to be built. During construction, 50 local brick
setters offered their services, 337 people volunteered to help with
construction and local people threw notes and coins into builder's
wheelbarrows. To celebrate the half century, a special service
is being held at St Michael's Church to remember how the community
came together to deliver the school. Pupils will then march
back to school in a recreation of the original parade, carrying
banners and balloons before holding a party in the afternoon.
Among those taking part will be people who contributed towards the
brick fund back in 1963.
Headteacher Rick Widdowson said:- "This school would not have
been built if it were not for the generosity of the local community.
We felt it was really important to make sure that they were involved
in the celebrations as they have been fantastic supporters of the
school over the last 50 years."
Councillor Jane Corbett, Cabinet member for education said:-
"This school is right at the heart of the local community.
Generations of local children have been taught at Garston and I am
delighted they are celebrating 50 years of success."