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More than 4,300 volunteers helping Worcestershire County Council out
MORE than 4,000 people now volunteer across Worcestershire - with a new website being launched to encourage even more to sign up.
The cash-strapped county council is facing unprecedented financial pressure and wants volunteers to fill any voids left by the reductions in funding.
It has now launched a website called 'Act Local' which aims to tap into people's consciences and get them on board.
The council currently has 4,304 volunteers including 406 in libraries, 578 in countryside services like parks, 250 in transport, 218 in care and 2,840 in museums and heritage.
Now it wants more - saying volunteers will play an ever-growing role across Worcestershire in the coming years.
Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for localism and communities, said: "We absolutely rely on these volunteers and the need for them is increasing.
"Getting more volunteers on board will actually help us to really focus even more on the jobs we want to do ourselves."
A launch event took place at County Hall last week where voluntary organisations manned stalls to publicise their work.
It included the West Mercia Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre, which has a team of volunteers staffing counselling hotlines in Worcester and Hereford.
Volunteer Elisa Martin, from Hanbury near Droitwich, said: "I've been volunteering at the centre for four-and-a-half years and I love it.
"It's a way of life - I will never stop volunteering, it means you can give something back."
Becky Weir, counselling manager for the Worcester branch of the centre, said: "Our hotlines are staffed purely by volunteers - they are absolutely vital to us.
"We've also got a team of counselling volunteers.
"Some of them have been with us for more than 10 years, we are proud of our retention rate."
A new video has been produced for the Act Local website featuring Worcester Warriors star Jake Abbott.
The county council say they have a £750,000 fund called 'changing futures' which aims to help voluntary groups expand.
There is still around £300,000 left, with the successful bidders able to get help in areas like marketing or fundraising from experts.
Suzy James, the council's chief co-ordinator for volunteers, said: "Across the whole county the value of volunteering is now £812 million - it's so important."
By 2018 the council is looking to hand 85 per cent its services to new providers, shedding 1,500 in-house jobs.
To see the new Act Local website visit worcestershire.gov.uk/cms/act-local.aspx
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