Heartfelt thanks to our volunteers

On Volunteers’ Week we wanted to pay tribute to our volunteers who dedicate hundreds of hours of their time every year to Wiltshire Community Foundation. Without their contribution we just couldn’t deliver our work effectively and ultimately change the lives of local people.

Our grants panellists alone donate a total of almost 1,000 hours a year, while our trustees and committee member put in hundreds more. Joint chief executive Vicky Hickey says: “Our volunteers, our panellists and our trustees, are absolutely vital to the way we operate as an organisation, both from a governance point of view and also because of the knowledge and experience they bring.

“Thanks to the time our volunteers give us we were able to award an £2million across 410 grants in 2022/23 and, particularly because of the support of our volunteer panel members, we can be confident the money has gone to where it can make the most impact.”

Each of our grants programmes has its own panel, made up of volunteers drawn from all parts of our community. Some, like education panellist Denis Twomey, are even former grant recipients who bring a different level of understanding of those who need our help.

“I was lucky enough to be awarded an education bursary in 2014 and it enabled me to go to university, which wasn’t something I could have done without it,” he says. “I found myself in a position that I was able to start giving back and when I joined the education panel it felt the most circular moment to give back to the people that enabled me to do what I wanted to do.”

Fellow education panel member Rosemary Hopgood needed the help of a grant from another trust when her son, who is dyslexic, was young. She says: “He got a grant for some equipment and it was just like opening a door for him. That has doubly helped me understand how Wiltshire Community Foundation grants help people.”

Before each panel meeting panellists receive the applications from groups, charities or individuals and make their own judgement about which ones to support. Then at the panel meetings each application is discussed in detail, with panellists able to bring their particular expertise and experience to bear.

“I love reading about the organisations and it’s makes you appreciate all the great work that is going on in Wiltshire and Swindon,” says panellist and trustee Damian Haasjes.

“You also have the opportunity to make decisions that will benefit those organisations. But you have to take your role seriously because it’s unlikely there is going to have enough money to support everyone who applies, so you have to think carefully about your decisions.”

Adds Denis: “There are differences of opinions but it's all done in a really nice respectful manner so anyone can actually voice a dissenting opinion and there's no judgement around it. It’s nice to come together with a different group of people, a different demographic with different experiences and viewpoints for a good cause.”

Damian says: “I like the fact that everyone in the panels is listened to and we work together to come to a consensus, which is a nice bit of teamwork.”

Being a member of a panel and being able to see the impact of the grants awarded is worth the commitment says Rosemary. “I enjoy seeing the applications from the young people and knowing how much they will benefit from the grants,” she says. “Sometimes it’s humbling when you see their circumstances, particularly with the young people applying for the bursary, and you see how much they have put into what they are doing.”

Vicky says the Foundation gains a huge amount from its volunteers. “Firstly there are all the hours they commit to, which is important,” she says. “But they also bring a vast range of experience and understanding of so many different sectors of society, which benefits us in our planning, decision-making, development and contact building – and our profile in Wiltshire and Swindon. They are part of our team and they make a real difference to us and to communities across Wiltshire and Swindon. On behalf of everyone at Wiltshire Community Foundation I want to thank them for their time, dedication and commitment.”

More information on becoming a trustee or panel member for Wiltshire Community Foundation is available here 

Back to news