Hundreds of people have come forward to find out more information about volunteering following a campaign to highlight the vital work to deliver services to communities across North Yorkshire.

The work of community champions has made a huge contribution across England’s largest county, keeping North Yorkshire cleaner, greener and more connected in ways that would otherwise not have been possible.

And a concerted campaign spearheaded by North Yorkshire Council during the past 12 months has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people coming forward to find out more about volunteering.

The Team North Yorkshire campaign has been promoted to hundreds of thousands of people through coverage in the media as well as through the council’s social media channels.

North Yorkshire Council’s chief executive, Richard Flinton, said: “We are indebted to the work of volunteers who make a real difference to communities across the county.

“Their efforts provide wide and varied benefits for support and services that would otherwise not be able to be delivered as effectively as they are.

“The Team North Yorkshire campaign has been vital to shine a light on all the good work that is being done, and it is wonderful to see that so many people have come forward to find out more about volunteering.”

Throughout the campaign, more than 300 people have been inspired to pursue volunteering opportunities with both the council and Community First Yorkshire by clicking through from the links on the Team North Yorkshire webpage.

The Northern Echo:

In the first month after launching the campaign in April last year, there was a 48 per cent increase in people visiting the council’s volunteering webpage compared with the year before.

Almost 50 volunteers have been featured in the campaign throughout the past 12 months showcasing a wide range of themes including tackling loneliness and digital exclusion, promoting grassroots sport, and enhancing conservation, tourism and civic pride.

Community First Yorkshire is a charity that supports other voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in the region.

Its chief executive, Jane Colthup, said: “Volunteers are the beating heart of many of our North Yorkshire communities, providing vital support in an often unseen capacity.

“Having North Yorkshire Council showcase the essential contribution that volunteers make to our county is a great way to recognise their support and we hope it encourages more people to consider giving the gift of their time.

“We know that being a volunteer means that people aren’t just helping others – it’s also good for boosting feelings of being connected socially and tackling loneliness.

“With the added benefit that the council’s volunteering campaign has also encouraged more people to ask for help, you get a real picture of the positive impact that being a volunteer can have.”

Many of the groups featured have seen a rise in interest and added new recruits to their ranks.

The co-founder of the Yorkshire Seal Group, Matt Barnes, and members of the 30-strong volunteer team visit seal sites on the coast of North and East Yorkshire to talk to the public.

They advocate responsible and respectful wildlife watching by providing telescopes and binoculars, so people can observe seals unobtrusively.

Mr Barnes said: “We inducted seven new seal stewards after the Team North Yorkshire coverage in October last year which was fantastic, and the increase in awareness of our work is greatly appreciated.”

Jennifer Aspden volunteers as a coach with Bedale Junior Football Club which has been able to expand its operations due to the interest generated through the Team North Yorkshire campaign.

The Northern Echo: Bedale Junior Football Club coach Jennifer Aspden.Bedale Junior Football Club coach Jennifer Aspden. (Image: North Yorkshire Council)

She said: “We’ve had half a dozen new coaches come to us since the article was published and interest from parents wanting to help out more to support the club. It really boosted my confidence.

“The fact that people have come to me and asked about coaching as a direct result of the publicity has been great. The extra capacity means we’ve been able to venture into a wider field and we are launching Bedale Inclusive Junior Football to give all children the opportunity to play. It’s very exciting and huge for the area.”

David Shaftoe is the chief officer at Open Country, a Harrogate-based charity which helps people with disabilities access and enjoy the countryside.

He said: “We have had welcome offers of help from new volunteers. Our groups are flourishing, and we were very grateful for the exposure. It was great coverage for an organisation the size of ours.”

North Yorkshire has a strong network of community and voluntary organisations involving thousands of volunteers, with more than 4,000 people directly supporting council services which are delivered to the 615,000 residents in the county.

The council’s libraries team also featured in the campaign to make more people aware of the home library service.

The publicity resulted in 68 new customers who will now be able to get books, audiobooks and other items delivered to their door free of charge as well as 18 volunteers signing up to help deliver the service.

Following a focus on digital skills in the campaign, libraries also saw a 39 per cent year-on-year increase in customers seeking support through IT buddies during October. Volunteers helped 1,675 customers take the first step in boosting their digital skills, 467 more than the 1,208 supported the previous year.

The national Volunteers Week will be staged next month from Monday, June 3, to Sunday, June 9. Organisers are celebrating 40 years of the event, and more information is available at online.

More information about volunteering in North Yorkshire is available at online.