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‘Hart in Hampshire has the best quality of life in Britain’ – that’s according to a survey carried out by the Halifax Building Society. Published last December, the report once again claims that the area scores highly on health, life expectancy, earnings, crime rates and even the weather! Great news for house prices but what about our sense of community? How are our voluntary groups fairing? For some, not too well.
With volunteer numbers across the UK seeing a 15% decline over the last decade, Hart is proving no exception. High employment, long commutes, busy family lives, often with both parents working to afford the mortgage, bucket lists and not forgetting the 480 plus television channels to watch means that fewer and fewer people living in the district have time to volunteer.
Over the eleven years she’s been in her post, Hart’s Volunteer Centre Manger, Sue Vincent, has seen a steady decline in the number of people willing to ‘get involved’. Sue totally appreciates that people are busy. ‘Back in the 80s we had 3 TV channels, if we were lucky! No email or social media and, most importantly, most people lived close to their workplace, finished at 5pm and didn’t then have to endure a 50-minute commute home (and that’s on a good day!)’. She does however strongly believe that Hart residents can still get involved at a time and commitment level to suit them.
Mike Collen, from Fleet Lions, agrees. ‘How will our current generation of 60 and 70-year olds fair when they can no longer drive, are socially isolated and the organisation that they thought could provide a volunteer to take them to their GP appointment no longer exists? If we don’t act now, we’ll lose some groups entirely!’
On Saturday 22nd September, Hart Volunteer Centre will join forces with Fleet Lions to host the ‘Get Involved’ Volunteer Fair 2018 in the Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet. The event will showcase voluntary groups that form the ‘life-blood’ of the local community, from Fireworks and Food Festivals to groups working to reduce social isolation for the elderly. With some 30 groups in attendance it clearly demonstrates the need the area has for new volunteers. So why not pop along and find out what’s going on right on your doorstep? There’s literally something for everyone, even if you can only commit to as little as the odd hour here and there, and all at a time to suit you and your lifestyle. Can’t make the date? Then take a look at volunteernorthhants.org and help keep Hart the best place to live in the UK!