I love a Jewish Women’s Aid Volunteer Celebration!

On 24th May we thanked our amazing volunteers at a joyous online event and it was wonderful. We are privileged to have 150 volunteers who support us across many of our services.  Between them, they are the core of our vital helpline, counselling and court support services, offering essential support to the women we work with.  Some volunteers also offer help in fundraising, administration and of course our wonderful trustee board are all volunteers too.   I am grateful to the time, advice and expertise they offer and to be able to thank them publicly was a privilege.

My own journey at JWA started as a volunteer too – I used to visit the old refuge and offer support to the residents and staff. I was always met with a warm welcome, a cup of tea and a sense that my contribution and time were valued and that I was making a difference.  I hope that the warmth I experienced in those early days is something that our current volunteers still feel, whatever their role.

Our volunteers today have supported us throughout the last difficult two years and in the main, are still here to tell the tale – we have a remarkably low turnover.  They worked with us whilst we adjusted our services from face-to-face to remote, whilst we reconfigured, adapted to higher and different levels of demand, and whilst our staff team expanded. Covid has shown us again how valuable our volunteers are to us and the huge contribution they make across all the different parts of Jewish Women’s Aid. I am so grateful to them for their commitment and last week’s volunteer celebration was an opportunity to thank them in person.

A highlight of the Volunteer Celebration was being able to spotlight a few key volunteers who represented different areas of our work, and who have demonstrated enormous commitment.  What I found amazing was the range – some had been volunteering with us for over 20 years and some for less than 18 months, they have different talents and areas of interest - but what they have in common is their enthusiasm and dedication to our work.

I was delighted to be able to show a short film which Jess Phillips MP had made especially for the occasion, thanking our volunteers for their commitment. Jess is a great champion of domestic abuse support services nationally and her words of appreciation were very powerful.  Without our volunteers, she said, ‘well, society would fall apart’ – and I think she’s probably right.

Thank you to the Honourable Jess Phillips MP for this motivational message to our volunteers, shown at our Volunteers Celebration Ceremony.