A new survey has revealed that almost half of all charitable organisations in Suffolk have no paid staff and are run solely by volunteers.
Research of groups in the county, carried out by Volunteer Suffolk, found that 44% of groups would not exist without the help of people who work for free.
58% of groups told us that they often found it difficult to find local people with time to spare, with 57% stateing this was mainly due to the lack of a local database.
Christine Abraham, Director of Community Services at Community Action Suffolk, the organisation that led the work to develop and launch the Volunteer Suffolk website last month, said: “We were responding to a real community problem and an incredible 60% of those we surveyed said the new service was improving links to volunteers and opportunities on the doorstep.
“This is fantastic news, allowing more of Suffolk’s wonderful charities, action groups and organisations – big and small – to operate.”
Volunteer Suffolk also carried out a survey of volunteers in the region.
The study found that 85% volunteer to give something back to their local community with 31% saying it improved their health and well-being and 40% claiming it helped them make friends.
Three quarters of those questioned said they found it easier to access local volunteer vacancies now the county had its own website.
The research comes as the High Sheriff of Suffolk, William Kendall praised the newly-launched Volunteer Suffolk for better linking volunteers to local community opportunities.
He said: “There are numerous organisations and activities which just wouldn’t exist without all of this generous help from a large army of volunteers who seem to be working tirelessly and often unappreciated behind the scenes.
“Suffolk has thousands of charities, social enterprises and similar organisations. It is also full of wonderful and generous people – the happiest of which are working closely with their communities.
“The demand for volunteers is enormous but I am yet to meet an unhappy one so there is lesson there for us all.”
The website already boasts more than 200 volunteering opportunities, added by local organisations and charities. These range from short-term and one-off roles, to temporary positions and long-term roles.
Current opportunities include being a tour guide for the Tide Mill in Woodbridge, a marshal at the Midnight Walk in aid of St. Elizabeth Hospice, preparing animal feeds at Banham Zoo and assisting with play sessions for children who have suffered from domestic abuse or violence at home.
There are also “10 minute volunteer” opportunities on offer which simply involve sharing a Facebook post to raise awareness, sourcing a raffle prize or putting up a poster at work.
The website also provides helpful volunteering tips, latest news and volunteers’ stories.
Volunteer Suffolk is a product of the Suffolk Volunteering Strategy and was made possible thanks to a steering group of representatives from Suffolk’s public, private and voluntary sectors.
For more information visit www.volunteersuffolk.org.uk