Cheshire East’s drive to get more volunteers involved in sport and leisure projects is proving a runaway success.
A total of 2,810 council-backed volunteer hours were completed in the first nine months of this year. This compares with 1,652 hours completed for the whole of 2009. There has been more than a 50 per cent increase in the number of volunteers in the same period.
Cheshire East Council’s leisure and play development team volunteer programme is designed to provide people aged 14 and above with the chance to gain new skills and experience within sport and leisure.
The aim is to boost their job and career opportunities within the industry, teach them skills and enhance sport and leisure coaching in clubs and community organisations across Cheshire East.
It also aims to help encourage more young people to have fun, get fit and steer away from anti-social behaviour.
The programme’s sport and play development officer meets each potential volunteer to find out their needs and what they would like to do.
The volunteer co-ordinator places individuals in a voluntary role and regularly reviews their work and progress against agreed targets – such as completing a course or achieving a sports qualification. Some volunteers gain work experience with the council’s leisure and play development team.
Councillor Andrew Knowles, Cabinet member with responsibility for health and wellbeing, said: “It is fantastic to see this project really taking off, enhancing sport and leisure across Cheshire East and encouraging more people to get fit and active.
“Volunteers play a pivotal role in all the sport and leisure work we do. Without the hard work and dedication of volunteers, our programmes and local sports clubs would not be able to run.
“Most sports volunteers rarely use the term 'volunteer' to describe their activities, they see themselves as coaches, umpires, referees, team managers, club personnel, event organisers and photographers.
“Whatever they see themselves as, they are helping to keep us fitter and healthier and we owe them a big thanks for their invaluable contribution.”
Volunteer programme facts:
● There are 65 volunteers active across Cheshire East. Last year there were about 40;
● 1,463 volunteer hours were completed from June to the end of August;
● 23 previous volunteers are now employed in the leisure industry;
● Volunteers helped host the Vanuatu ladies’ beach volleyball Olympic training camp in August;
● A former Cheshire East volunteer is now student activities officer at MMU Cheshire.
For more information on the volunteer programme visit: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/sports