Popular town volunteer group celebrates its first birthday

Hosts badgeKNUTSFORD Hosts, the town-wide volunteering scheme is celebrating its first birthday today

Launched Sarah Flannery and backed by an Awards for All grant from The Big Lottery Fund, the Hosts’ six-month pilot scheme started with six partners and no Hosts.

One year on, the scheme has 20 partners, more than 40 Hosts and has established a real presence in Knutsford and beyond.

The pilot scheme finished at the end of September with Knutsford Town Council deeming the scheme a success at their October meeting.

Along the way, Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs, and George Osborne MP have become honorary Hosts, and two Knutsford Town Councillors, Andrew Malloy and Peter Coan, have become fully fledged Hosts.

The idea for the Hosts came from the London 2012 ‘Gamesmakers’ who received universal praise for the way in which they made the event such a success and the fact that locally, people clamoured to volunteer for the Knutsford leg of the Olympic Torch relay.

These were stand-out examples of community volunteering, which gave Sarah Flannery the idea of seeing if that energy could be harnessed by creating a whole team of trained community volunteers to represent Knutsford and become an invaluable community resource for all kinds of events.

“Community volunteering is good for the community and the individuals involved, and can have a big social impact,” said Sarah.

“Usually, though, programmes are organisation-specific. The innovation behind the Knutsford Hosts was that it is town-wide, and therefore likely to attract people new to volunteering.

“That has been one of the core successes of the scheme as we have had people of all ages becoming Hosts – some who haven’t volunteered before, some who didn’t want to commit to one particular charity or organisation, and some who already volunteer regularly but wanted to give a little extra.”

The Hosts have helped support a huge range of events and activities including World Book Day, Knutsford Beer Festival, Royal May Day, RHS Tatton, Longridge Family Fun Day, the Makers’ Markets, the Welcome, Knutsford Grow, Knutsford Heritage Centre, RVS Good Neighbour, Macmillan Cycletta, the Heath Litter Pick-Up, The Knutsfordian, Knutsford Loves Fashion, the Pumpkin Path, WW1 stickers, the Knutsford Lions Christmas Appeal, Longridge Bulb Planting, the Lantern workshops and Parade, the Children’s Xmas Party and the Over 55’s Christmas Party.

Most recently around 20 Hosts supported the Age UK Tatton Park 10k – marshalling, cheerleading, and generally supporting the thousands of runners who took part.

This Easter weekend the Hosts will be supporting the Knutsford and District Lions Club’s Easter weekend collection at Aldi Supermarket and the Knutsford Promenades at Sunday’s Makers Market from 11am to 4pm. Drop by our community stall and say hello!

For more information about the Knutsford Hosts visit knutsfordhosts.co.uk

From Knutsford Guardian