Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Celebrating our volunteers this Volunteers' Week

Andy Hopkinson | 1st June 2022

Volunteers’ Week, which takes place during the first week of June every year, is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering, and the perfect time to say thank you to them

Celebrating Meningitis Now volunteers for Volunteers' Week

Figures from NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations), the umbrella organisation that champions the voluntary sector and volunteering, says 16.3 million of us volunteered last year and that most people – about 7 in 10 – will have volunteered at some point. Almost 1 in 5 of us volunteer at least once a month, about 9.2 million people.

Behind these big numbers is a big contribution, and that’s worthy of a big celebration and a big thank you. 

Fabulous team of volunteers

And here at Meningitis Now we count ourselves fortunate to have a fabulous team of volunteers out there supporting our work and making a huge contribution to what we do. Around the country we have nearly 250 active volunteers, tirelessly helping to raise awareness of this devastating disease. 

Our volunteers help us raise awareness by giving talks, running stands and distributing literature; they also raise funds in street or supermarket collections; and help out at our big events like the London Marathon, the Five Valleys Walk or our Christmas Concerts – sometimes all of the above! 

And very grateful we are to each and every one of them, as well as everyone else who gets involved with the 101 other things that make such a difference to our work. 

Invaluable to us

Tom Nutt, our chief executive, said: “Our volunteers are, quite simply, invaluable to us. 

“They work as part of a fantastic team across the UK and we simply couldn’t do what we do without your ongoing support, generosity and inspiration – we’re so grateful to you all, thank you. 

“Because of our volunteers we are louder with our awareness messages, reaching more people who need us, making change happen, funding more research and, above all, getting closer to making our goal - where no one dies from meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need - a reality.” 

Tom added: “By giving a little of your time, you can help us to help those affected by meningitis and make a difference today and every day. Just a few hours a month can make an amazing difference.” 

Achieve so much more

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Isobel Black, added: “With the continued support, enthusiasm and hard work of our amazing volunteers we’re able to achieve so much more in our fight against meningitis.

“Our volunteers help to put right so many misconceptions about meningitis; time and time again we hear that someone didn’t think it was meningitis as there was no rash, or they didn’t know their partner or teenager was at risk as they thought it was a disease that only affects young children. 

“As a trusted voice in their local communities and by talking about meningitis and highlighting the signs and symptoms they have the potential to save a life.” 

Brilliant effort

After two years without face-to-face activity due to the Covid pandemic, our volunteering activity started to open up again last September. As soon as they were able to, our volunteers returned to universities, schools and community groups, giving talks, running awareness stands, joining us at our events and distributing our lifesaving materials. 

At the end of April we looked at the numbers for the previous year and, despite all the difficulties, they had still managed a fantastic 434 hours of volunteering! A brilliant effort.

But there’s still lots to do. For example, university open days are happening across the UK at the moment and we’re encouraging our volunteers to contact their local university and ask if they can run an awareness stand for us, to help make sure our students are meningitis aware. Given the recent rise in MenB cases it’s vital that students know the signs and symptoms, as the MenACWY vaccination they have does not cover them against MenB. 

Virtual presentation

We have also developed a virtual presentation about meningitis that raises awareness of the signs and symptoms and we’d love our volunteers to give this to their local secondary schools and colleges to help equip students with vital knowledge before they head off to university. 

We’re also aiming to get a signs and symptoms fridge magnet into every university dorm in the UK. Our volunteers had ordered an incredible 10,800 of these by the end of April.

We still have a way to go in our fight to beat meningitis in the UK within a generation, but the generous contribution of our volunteers is moving us ever closer to our vision, where no one dies from this disease and everyone affected gets the support they need. So, again, we say a heartfelt thank you to them.

And, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not all one-way traffic. 

Research carried out by NCVO has shown that as well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers' wellbeing too. 

“It’s human nature to feel good after helping someone out,” Isobel added. “Volunteering can also help you gain valuable new skills and experiences, and boost your confidence.” 

If you want to make a difference in the fight against meningitis we’d be thrilled to have you on the team – please get in touch. Find out more about volunteering opportunities with Meningitis Now in your area by contacting Isobel at isobelb@meningitisnow.org or checking our Volunteering Opportunities Board.