Making it easy for people to give their time in a meaningful and fulfilling way was the catalyst for launching the Jewish Volunteering Network (JVN). Enabling charities to recruit those individuals with the skills and experience was also its aim and as JVN now celebrates its 10th anniversary, it knows the impetus was right. The charity has gone from strength to strength and become one of the leading faith-based voluntary organisations in the UK.
In conjunction with turning 10, JVN has been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the equivalent of an MBE and the highest honour charities can receive as it is given to voluntary organisations deemed to be outstanding in their field. JVN is the first London-based Jewish charity to receive it.
“It represents our desire to provide the opportunity for everyone to give back, regardless of their age or ability,” says director Leonie Lewis.
“Our core mission is to connect volunteers to volunteering opportunities. Just as with a professional job, volunteers are more productive if they are motivated by a role that is interesting to them and suited to their skill set.
“Our website is a portal to volunteering opportunities that match the skills, interests and availability of a volunteer to the right charity and their beneficiaries.”
For those struggling with the internet or finding it hard to find a suitable role, a one-to-one surgery session is also available with a member of JVN’s staff.
The desire for giving back to the community in recent years has led JVN to expand its core services. It is at the forefront of maintaining standards within the charity sector, advising and training charity professionals and trustees in how to uphold good practice in management and charity governance respectively.
To meet new demands, multiple programmess have been created: the Supported Volunteering Project provides mentors to assist those with extra support needs to volunteer; and the Bnei Mitzvah Programme develops accessible, youth and family-friendly opportunities to volunteer for 11 to 14s.
JVN recruits and manages volunteers from its Ad Hoc Volunteering Squad for some of the community’s most high-profile events – it was recently a partner for the Maccabi GB Community Fun Run and will soon be assisting with Shabbat UK and the Jewish Child’s Day Chanukah party.
Specific family-oriented seasonal opportunities at home and in Israel are also made available around key times such as Pesach, the summer holidays and the winter festive period. And JVN will soon be formally celebrating its 10th anniversary with a gala dinner in September and recognising outstanding volunteers with the annual Wohl JVN Volunteering Awards ceremony.
“Increasing pressure is now put on charities and community organisations to provide for society’s most vulnerable groups,”
“The role of JVN will therefore become ever more important as it continues to engage volunteers who are prepared to commit to uphold these vital services.
“Charities are seen as the pillar on which a community stands, and this is why we like to think of JVN as the heartbeat that breathes life into the charity sector and helps people see the true value of giving their time.”
If you want to volunteer or work for a charity that could use JVN’s help, visit jvn.org.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8203 6427