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Volunteers who contribute their time to support unpaid carers were thanked at an award ceremony held at The Bear Hotel, Devizes on Thursday 4 August. Carer Support Wiltshire held the annual event especially for its volunteers, and attendees all enjoyed afternoon tea before finding out the names of the six people chosen to receive an award.

Carer Support Wiltshire has 105 volunteers currently working for the charity who ensure that a range of services can be offered to people who are caring for someone and need support. Volunteers run and support carer cafes, groups and other carer events, they offer regular phone calls to people through a befriending service called Here to Talk and they are involved in carers voice events.

Amanda Rothwell, Carer Support Wiltshire Volunteer Support Officer says: “Our volunteers are all absolute superstars and we welcome the opportunity to do something for them once a year with our volunteer awards.

“Although we highlight the achievements of a few, we’re really celebrating all of our volunteers, who give freely of their time, experience and expertise to support us and their communities. Without them we simply wouldn’t be able to support as many carers as we do.

“Carers need support from us now more than ever. Many have given up work or reduced their working hours to allow them to care for a friend or family member who has fallen ill, is elderly or has a disability and this adds a financial pressure to an already, often challenging, situation. There are also a lot of carers who are still feeling the effects of the lockdowns, which left them completely stressed and burnt out from caring 24/7 at home with no extra help or respite.”

The award categories included Outstanding Contribution (in Wiltshire and also Dorset, a county which the charity also covers), the Volunteer Manager award and Volunteer of the Year. There was also a Corporate Award, handed to Mark Flay (pictured) at Zurich Community Trust whose employees have given hundreds of hours of their time to support carers, including contacting 660 carers for a wellbeing check during the first lockdown and running a weekly online carer café.

Mary from Chippenham won the Volunteer of the Year award on the day and says: “With other volunteers, I facilitate the monthly Corsham carers café, attend an information point for the MOD and am soon to facilitate a carers café in Rudlow. Each of these are one morning a month. I also phone carers who are signed up to the Here to Talk service.

“Volunteering is a two-way thing. The organisation will support you and value any time you can give, but you need to do something you enjoy and don’t do more than you are comfortable with. There are many benefits – you will make new friends, feel valued by the organisation and those you help, and it can lead to employment if appropriate for you. Thank you to Carer Support Wiltshire for an enjoyable volunteer awards afternoon and for the, appreciated but unexpected, Volunteer of the Year award.”

Carer Support Wiltshire would always like to hear from people who are interested in volunteering. Current opportunities include as a Here to Talk befriending volunteer, and the charity is also looking for a Treasurer to join its board of trustees. If you would like to find out more about volunteering, or are caring for someone and would like to find what support is available to you, call 0800 181 4118 during normal office hours.