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Chelmsford celebrates volunteering at VOLFEST as The Big Help Out returns

Volfest Group
Some of the volunteers at VOLFEST 2024. Photo by Abi Harrison.

VOLFEST returned to Chelmsford High Street yesterday to mark National Volunteers Week 2024. Organised by Chelmsford Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), this year’s event saw more than 50 local organisations take over Chelmsford High Street to showcase their charitable activities and highlight the benefits of volunteering for the community.

Celebrating communities working together

VOLFEST started in Chelmsford in 2019 as a festival dedicated to celebrating people working together for the benefit of all. Organisations in attendance at this year’s event included Cool To Be Kind, Sanctus, Farleigh Hospice, Wilderness Foundation and City of Chelmsford Mencap.

Across the day, attendees and passersby enjoyed music, food, and fun activities including an object handling table from Chelmsford Museum and the chance for little ones to make their own ‘friendship bead worm’ with Chelmsford Scouts. Remap volunteers were also on hand to demonstrate some of the equipment they’ve created for people with disabilities, while adorable pooches from Guide Dogs showcased their best behaviour.

Whilst exploring the many stalls, people could discover how Chelmsford’s rich and diverse voluntary sector supports communities across the district. Many visitors to the festival also took the opportunity to sign up for some of the hundreds of volunteer positions advertised at VOLFEST.

CEO of Chelmsford CVS, Lorraine Jarvis, says it was inspiring to see people exploring and signing up for volunteering opportunities through the festival:

"Every year at VOLFEST, there is such a great buzz in the high street and this year was no different. It’s important that we shout about the power of volunteering as a truly life-enhancing force for good, and I’d like to thank all of Chelmsford’s fantastic charities that turned out for our feel-good festival this week. It was wonderful to see the high street busy with curious visitors and passersby – chatting to stallholders, learning about volunteering, and signing up to support others. At Chelmsford CVS, we can’t wait for VOLFEST 2025 already!”

Lorraine Jarvis, CEO, Chelmsford CVS

The Big Help Out returns 7–9 June.

Big Help Out Logo

The Big Help Out has also returned this National Volunteers Week. The initiative began in 2023 to mark His Majesty The King’s Coronation and will return annually to raise awareness of volunteering throughout the UK. This year’s event takes place from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 June and encourages people across the country to lend a hand and help make a positive change in their communities.

To take part in The Big Help Out 2024, download The Big Help Out app and browse opportunities listed for this weekend in your area.

If you’d like to volunteer but aren’t able to join the Big Help Out this weekend, why not use the opportunity to make a Big Promise?

Volunteering isn’t reserved for one special day. Many charities across Chelmsford require volunteers throughout the year. This Big Help Out you could make a resolution to help out in your community in the future – even if you don’t yet know what that could be. 

You can explore different opportunities to volunteer around Essex at volunteeressex.org.uk. Just a few of the many roles they currently have available include a service dog foster carer and trainer, a Chelmsford Youth Centre trustee, and a FoodCycle cooking volunteer.

Alternatively, if you’re keen to connect with nature and help protect our environment, Love Your Chelmsford offers varied opportunities to volunteer at Chelmsford’s parks and nature reserves. From litter picking to coppicing trees, there’s something to suit all abilities. Find out more on the Love Your Chelmsford website.

Volunteers working on Bell Meadow garden
Volunteers at work at a park in Chelmsford. Photograph by Paul Starr.

If you’re not sure what you want to do and need a little guidance, the best thing to do is book an appointment with Chelmsford CVS, who have hundreds of local opportunities for you to make a difference, and they’ll personally help you to find one that fits. At your appointment, they will have a one-to-one chat with you about your interests, abilities, and time-commitments, and help you find a role that’s perfect for you.

Contact Chelmsford CVS at volunteer@chelmsfordcvs.org.uk or call them on 01245 351888. A selection of local opportunities can also be found on their website.

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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.