A chance to bring some volun-cheer

PUBLISHED: 12:59 07 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:39 04 May 2010

VOLUNTEER Day was marked across the country on Tuesday - and two of the district s major voluntary organisations took the opportunity to say they are well and truly open for business. Ely and District Volunteer Centre and the East Cambridgeshire Council f

VOLUNTEER Day was marked across the country on Tuesday - and two of the district's major voluntary organisations took the opportunity to say they are well and truly open for business.

Ely and District Volunteer Centre and the East Cambridgeshire Council for Voluntary Services have announced that they are to merge but said they will be providing the same service before the new group begins operating in April.

Avril Hayter-Smith, chairman of the Ely and District Volunteer Centre, said: "Everything is going on as it always has and the service is just the same - we are always looking for volunteers to carry out vital work in the community."

She said the new group, which will be called East Cambs Voluntary and Community Action, is hoping to secure a Lottery grant.

"We hope this money will come in and expand the new organisation as a whole and improve the services we provide across East Cambridgeshire."

The new group plans to run a mentoring project for new, smaller charitable organisations in the district. "We want to carry out organisational health checks for smaller groups and organise training for them," said Mrs Hayter-Smith.

One of the volunteer centre's flagship projects, the Helping Hands Gardening Scheme, will continue and has been nominated by Ely mayor John Ison for a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Under the scheme, people with learning difficulties, long-term unemployed and people recovering from mental illness carry out gardening work for the community - 86 projects were undertaken by the team last year.

Cllr Ison said: "It's an extremely good scheme - it helps an awful lot of people and, not only individuals, but the community itself, with the high standard of work that was carried out for Ely in Bloom by its members.

"The team provides a very good service and I think they are well worthy of wider recognition."

INFO: If you are interested in volunteering, contact Ely and District Volunteer Centre on 01353 666556.

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