Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

What Would We Do without Volunteers?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 29th July, 2007

Over a long, leisurely lunch at the home of the Chair of Holborn and St. Pancras LibDems, David Simmons — to thank all those who helped in the recent successful council by-election campaign in Haverstock ward, and to raise money for the next contest, wherever that might be — I reflected on how on earth we would manage without the goodwill and energy of volunteers. This is true of all the political parties in Britain, which rely on countless thousands of unpaid hours by members and helpers, delivering leaflets, organising events, telling at elections and all the other mundane tasks — as well as often chipping in financially as well. Sometimes when foreign visitors come to look at the electoral process in this country, they are astounded at the way we do things.

It isn’t just in party politics that volunteering provides the backbone that keeps everything together. Whether it is the retirees helping out in the local Oxfam shop, people working with the League of Friends of various hospitals, or the collectors for special charity weeks, a significant proportion of the population of Britain offers some of their time, gratis, to serve the community or other causes. Whenever I’m feeling gloomy about the state of modern society — the litter, the rudeness, the carelesness about other people’s comfort — thinking about the volunteers who help make our country tick brings me back to reality with a gratifying bump. 

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