Voluntary Action South West Surrey’s own heroes recognised in Mayor of Guildford’s awards

There was a significant rise in the number of people receiving the Mayor of Guildford’s awards for their service in their communities this year. Among some of the recipients were Voluntary Action’s own volunteers and our former chief officer.

Carol Dunnett has recently retired as Chief Officer of Voluntary Action South West Surrey. She received the mayor’s award for service to the community for her help and support over more than a decade to hundreds of voluntary groups and charities in the region.

Our volunteers who received the same award are: Teresa Male, who volunteers at our office in Castle Street as well as helping people in her own community. Recently, she has also been volunteering as a marshal at the COVID-19 vaccination centre at G Live in Guildford.

David Sindall volunteers with our Welcome Buddies project that matches volunteers with people who require support to move forward and out of services designed for mental ill health and into the community. He also volunteers at Headway Surrey, the charity based in Stoughton that supports individuals and families with brain injuries.

Marion Thompson, who has volunteered for three local charities, Guildford Action, The Canterbury Care Centre and Voluntary Action South West Surrey, for almost 10 years.

Marion Thompson has volunteered for Voluntary Action South West Surrey in an admin role and minute taker at meetings for over 10 years. She also takes minutes voluntarily for Guildford Action and The Canterbury Care Centre.

More than 60 residents and groups have been recognised in the 2021 awards for making a real difference, especially during the pandemic.

Recipients are those who Guildford Borough Council recognises as improving the lives of others, fostering good relationships and encouraging positive community spirit.

This year’s awards event, which was broadcast on the council’s YouTube channel on 10th  May, also included a new Community Heroes award to celebrate groups whose activities have supported residents affected by Coronavirus.

It can be watched via this link: The 2021 Mayor of Guildford’s Awards for Service to the Community

Volunteers’ Week





Volunteers’ Week takes place between the 1-7 June 2021 and is an opportunity to thank those who contribute their time to volunteering. The past year has been difficult, and we recognise that many people have supported their local communities throughout the pandemic.

In Surrey, Voluntary Action South West Surrey supports the voluntary and community sectors in Guildford and Waverley. Over the past 12 months our team has supported mutual aid and neighbourhood support groups with information, provided support to individuals with mental health needs on our projects, and coordinated PPE supplies on behalf of Surrey County Council to charities and voluntary groups alongside many other tasks.

In addition to supporting the voluntary and community sector we have helped our health partner organisation with the COVID-19 vaccination roll out. We were able to provide immediate support and provide volunteers at a number of vaccination sites across the local area. These volunteers have been instrumental in the mammoth task of vaccination roll out.

The response to our requests for volunteers to assist at the vaccination sites has been phenomenal; shifts at the Cranleigh local vaccination site were filled within 52 minutes in February. Our volunteer availability and commitment exceeded the shifts available and we experienced a high volume of calls and emails from volunteers asking how they could help. The community spirit in Guildford and Waverly is strong and we look forward to working with our volunteers as we recover from the pandemic.

Lance Lathino, CEO at Voluntary Action South West Surrey visited the G live local vaccination site today to thank volunteers for their hard work and commitment to supporting their local community during an international pandemic.

Lance said, “Our volunteers have played a key part in the COVID-19 vaccination roll out and on behalf of Voluntary Action South West Surrey and all our partners we want to extend a thank you to everyone that has supported over the past year.”

There are hundreds of charities and community groups within Guildford and Waverly who are currently looking for volunteers. Our website has details of all vacancies and we encourage anyone who has some time to spare to register as a volunteer. Charities and community groups want volunteers from who walks of life, anyone can volunteer and support their community.



VASWS Update Lockdown 2.0

As we move into lockdown 2.0, we are very sad to update that our volunteer centre has had to close to the public for drop-ins and face-face appointments until the lockdown ends. That does not mean we have stopped helping as we are still here working on the telephones and via email to keep the people of Guildford and Waverley connected to volunteering roles, activities and services supporting wellbeing.

Our projects including Welcome Buddies, Welcome to Volunteering, Volunteer Buddies and Social Prescribing continue to operate adapting to the changes. For any questions about any of these projects, you can contact the below project workers directly for more information, or ring us on: 01483565456.

Welcome Buddies: Denise Graves: d.graves@vasws.org.uk David Rose: d.rose@vasws.org.uk

Volunteer Buddies: David Rose: d.rose@vasws.org.uk

Welcome to Volunteering: Claire Lane and Lorraine Yates: c.lane@vasws.org.ukl.yates@vasws.org.yk

Social Prescribing: communitypoint@vasws.org.uk ,01483 565456

Community Pointcommunitypoint@vasws.org.uk ,01483 565456

Volunteer CentreCaroline Keith: c.keith@vasws.org.uk 01483565456

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about how we can help you or your clients. You can also visit our website for more information: https://voluntaryactionsws.org.uk/

Keep on and keep smiling!

Get Online Week 19th – 25th October

Technology and the internet has been a huge help to us throughout this year’s lockdown and the pandemic so far. It has enabled people to work successfully from home, school children to do their homework and classes remotely, exercise classes and social groups to take place and friends and family to keep connected across the globe, however, this has not been the case for 4.1 million people who are not online in the UK. As a result of this, many people are being left isolated experiencing feelings of loneliness.

How Can We Help People Get Online?

This year’s Get Online Week that runs from 19th-25th October is themed on the idea of helping people to get online, encouraging us all to ensure no-one is left digitally excluded.

In Surrey there are many organisations working hard to help people who may be struggling with technology or do not have access to the equipment. An example of some of these organisations include:

1. Farnham Lions: The Lions in Farnham are refurbishing old laptops and PCs and donating these to children and people in need

2. Age UK Surrey: The Digital Buddies projects is recruiting volunteers to support older people with any technology queries

3. Surrey Coalition of Disabled People: The Coalition has projects to help and educate people about how to use certain types of technology. Projects include: Tech To Community Connect, Tech How To Guides, Technology Enabled Smarter Homes.

Contact Us At Voluntary Action South West Surrey

There are many more charities and services in the borough supporting people with this. For more information about the organisations available to help, ring us on 01483 565456 and we will connect you.

World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October. The pandemic and lockdown have dramatically increased the prevalence of mental health challenges globally and it has become more important than ever to ensure we are looking after our own mental health, as well as looking out for others’ too.

With a high volume of changes and instability and the adjustment to working at home, it is integral to do the things that make you feel good and protect your mental wellbeing. Below are two links to websites with tips and ideas about how to look after your mental health during the crisis and how to support friends, family and colleagues.



Mental Health Support at Voluntary Action South West Surrey

At VASWS, we run various projects and services to support people with mental ill-health or overcoming mental health challenges. See below for how we can help:

Welcome to Volunteering:

The Welcome to Volunteering project supports people into volunteering to help increase their confidence and skills. The project provides ongoing support to help people take up and sustain volunteering roles. If you would like to refer someone to the project or ask questions about how Lorraine and Claire can support an individual in the coming months please contact Lorraine Yates, l.yates@vasws.org.uk.

Welcome Buddies:

This project works with people overcoming mental ill-health to integrate into the community and take part in activities that make them feel good. Volunteer buddies are paired with people and will support them into engaging.

Denise Graves needs volunteer buddies to help support those who are recovering from mental-ill health to engage with their community. Social distancing guidelines are being strictly followed. If you have any questions, would like to make a referral or volunteer, please contact Denise Graves, d.graves@vasws.org.uk

Social Prescribing:

Link Workers for Social Prescribing are based at VASWS and are working with people in Guildford and Waverley to connect them to support and services that make them feel better. Referrals must come through GPs or other health professionals.

For more information, please call 01483 504626.

Start Your Volunteering Journey Today



2020 has been a strange and challenging year for us all. Through the darkness, though, there has been light and in South West Surrey (and the world beyond the boroughs) we have witnessed amazing acts of kindness and communities pulling together.

In May, the Guardian reported that nearly 10 million adults had been volunteering in their communities in the UK during the crisis. This is phenomenal. At Voluntary Action South West Surrey alone, we registered a huge volume of people within only a few weeks and we are continuing to register keen volunteers today who want to help organisations in Guildford and Waverley.

As we continue to live with the virus and go back to some form of normality, we hope this spirit and willingness to help others continues to be a prominent theme of the year.

If you have left lockdown with more free-time, a desire to help the community or you feel inspired to try something new, give us a ring on 01483 56546 and we will help you start your volunteering journey today.

Volunteering in a Covid World

It can feel scary venturing back out into the world or starting something new such as volunteering after the enforced lockdown and isolation, knowing we are still living with the virus, however, you will be fully supported in your volunteering roles and strict guidelines will be in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved. If you have any questions about this, just get in touch with us and we will put your mind at ease.

There are of course roles that can be done from home such as telephone befriending keeping those experiencing isolation and loneliness company through a friendly telephone chat. Don’t worry if you can’t physically go to a location to volunteer – your help will still be needed.

How to Find Volunteering Roles?

At the volunteer centre we are open two days a week for now, for two hours: Mondays and Thursdays, 10.30am-12.30pm. If you would like advice about volunteering, help in searching for a suitable role or support applying for something, we can organise for a short meeting to take place between these opening times for you and one of our volunteer advisors. The meeting will be informal lasting for up to 15 minutes, all you are required to bring is yourself and ideas! Masks are mandatory in the centre too.

For details about volunteering and the roles available in Guildford and Waverley, you can look at our website, here. If you happen to apply for something online and do not hear a response within two weeks, please let us know and we will chase this up for you.

There are many benefits to be gained by lending a hand in your community, for both the volunteer and those being supported. Read more about that, here.  If you can volunteer, please do – it’s this spirit and support that will help us all get through what has been a gruelling and tough experience.

Voluntary Action South West Surrey is Registered Charity Number: 1116293 | Registered Company Number: 05841344 | Registered Office: 39 Castle Street | Guildford | GU1 3UQ

Copyright 2020 Voluntary Action South West Surrey