This week is Volunteers’ Week, and over the last few months, we have been hearing more and more about voluntary work as we have been thrown increasingly back on our own devices as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. We have heard legions of stories about neighbours helping each other over, in the grand scheme of things, relatively small tasks, like shopping or collecting the post, but which have meant so much to those who otherwise would have been unable to do them.
At the heart of volunteering is the compulsion and the willingness to something for others without seeking any reward, particularly financial remuneration. Volunteering is a firm reminder that, in essence, we want to do these things because we think they are important and right, that they contribute something to the greater good, and that it says something about our system of values.
It is humbling to realise how extensive this compulsion is in our society: if we stopped all volunteering tomorrow then any number of activities would simply cease, many of which we have come to depend on, from staffing suppers for the homeless (which I know many volunteers do) to offering community transport services, driving minibuses that take people from scattered communities to towns for shopping and so on.
Of course, at this time, many of our recognised volunteering activities, including those at the cathedral, have had to stop, but that has only highlighted our dependence on volunteering. So, it is indeed a very appropriate time to thank all our volunteers for all the work they do. At the cathedral, we have over 200 volunteers who give of their time for myriad activities, and we miss them all at the moment. However, on Sunday 7th June, we are going to have a virtual volunteer cream tea in which we, at the cathedral, can show our appreciation for our volunteers. Everyone is being encouraged to make a cream tea and participate in a Zoom meeting, which should be quite a spectacle in itself.
We do long for the day when some volunteer activity within the cathedral can take place again, but until then we thank you all for your service, dedication and commitment as volunteers. Volunteering is often the invisible network that binds communities together, and we are very appreciative of all that this means for our cathedral family.