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The clock is ticking- The race is on to fill the volunteer force

By Dylan J. Stone.

Volunteers are the backbone of the community.

This is an indisputable fact, and our community relies on volunteers for sport and recreational events, beautification and environmental projects, tourism, and everything in-between.

The regular working-bees at the Riddiford Arboretum is a clear example, as volunteers ensure the Arboretum is maintained for the enjoyment of the entire community.

Notwithstanding, organisations are now finding it very difficult to attract and secure volunteers- whom are often people with jobs or businesses, families, and hobbies; who selflessly dedicate their time and energy to the community and for the community.

Broken Hill Community Centre Secretary Sharon Hocking comments that ‘volunteering has changed over the years because work hours, workloads and free time have all been changed to meet the current needs of business and society.’

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This certainly makes it difficult for many people to dedicate time to voluntary work, and this view justifies why volunteers in our community are generally retired people ‘who give their time and energy to clubs, organisations and events’ to whom they are passionate about or enjoy being involved and connected with.

Frankee Baldwin is all too aware of the need to recruit new volunteers.

As a former President of the Broken Hill Lion’s Club, Frankee similarly comments that as life is ‘becoming increasingly busy, (this) makes volunteering tricky.’

Understandably, Frankee has noticed that ‘volunteer numbers have slowly been dropping,’ but this could be reversed by ‘creating a greater understanding of what volunteers in the community do’ to support and enhance the local community.

The various volunteer groups and organisations, according to Frankee, ensures ‘there is something for everyone.’

Christine Adams, another enthusiastic community volunteer, also comments on the changing nature of volunteerism in the community.

‘The Railway Museum has been fortunate in having dedicated persons volunteering for years, but we like many (other) organisations, are in need of help,’ Christine says.

Busy periods, such as school holidays and special events, require more volunteers to manage the day-to-day operations of the Railway Museum, such as ‘data base entry, admin, restoration and cleaning.’

The unfortunate issue of vandalism, acknowledges Christine, also requires volunteers to ‘supervise’ the Museum, to ensure this excellent resource continues to be available to locals and tourists alike.

On the question of how to boost volunteer numbers, Sharon believes it’s important to target specific people and directly ask them to help- particularly people who might be connected to a group or issue in some way, or people who are looking for inclusion and company.

In any event, it is important to ensure volunteers ‘feel appreciated, (and) feel good about what they are giving to the event, group, or organisation.’

Frankee believes the best way to boost volunteerism is to simply demonstrate how volunteers help throughout the community, and if the community can see the benefits of voluntary work within the community, then ‘more people may be inclined to put their hands up.’

Simply, Christine says that ‘when you work out how to encourage more voluntary community involvement, please let me know.’

Like Christine, voluntary groups are now asking this question, and the clock is certainly ticking to save some of our iconic local voluntary organisations.

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