Story & photo Eve Jeffery
Last week was National Volunteer Week, and across the shire and the nation the people who make this country run without pay were given their due.
With everything from essential services, such as fire and rescue groups and social outreach and protection associations through to looking after our flora and fauna and right down to the niceties of changing the flowers in the vase next to a hospital bed, volunteers make the world go round.
Imagine the cost to the government if our taxes went toward paying the people who provide these services freely?
The theme for National Volunteer Week 2012 was Volunteers – Every One Counts.
The theme’s intention was to send a strong message to existing volunteers that they are valued and to encourage potential volunteers.
Virginia Clarke started as a Byron Writers’ Festival volunteer in 2007 and has been with the festival every year since. Now she is co-ordinating volunteers for the festival.
‘In early 2010 I was looking for an organisation to volunteer with and the Writers’ Centre was top of the list,’ says Virginia who, like many of the altruistic folk, is a serial volunteer.
She has helped out with supported housing for people with mental illness, with koala welfare, and now the literary world. ‘Volunteering for me is a way of contributing to the community.
‘It also allows you experience different environments and groups of people you may not ordinarily come into contact with; share your skills and develop new ones.’
Virginia says the cost of tickets would be astronomical if the cost of employing all the workers were taken into account.
‘It would be impossible to say the value of the volunteers,’ says Virginia. ‘They are priceless. We could not manage without the volunteers and we could not afford to put on the festival if we had to pay the vollies.’