Volunteer Week is an annual celebration in recognition of all the hard work volunteers take part in across the country. There is an ever growing volunteer community in England, with an estimated 20 million people donating over 100 million hours to good causes every year. This year’s Volunteer Week focuses on saying a big ‘thank-you’ to all those who volunteer their time to help others and improve local communities.

Here in Dagenham and Rainham local MP Jon Cruddas has been building a vast network of volunteers. Over the course of the last year the volunteer network has increased to over 1500 members, coming from all over Dagenham, Rainham, South Hornchurch and Elm Park. Jon’s volunteers provide a vital ‘street level’ contact with the local community, delivering surveys and newsletters that address crucial local issues such as; crime and anti-social behaviour, the local NHS and they also call for residents to raise any issues that might have otherwise been overlooked.

A number of Jon’s volunteers also help out with local campaigns and admin tasks in the constituency office, which is becoming increasingly busy with the recent round of government cuts.

One of Jon’s staff commented: “It’s fantastic to have a constant flow of local volunteers lending a hand in the office on a daily basis.”

Volunteers help out in so many ways, and this week is the nation’s chance to thank them for all hard work they do. Last year Jon Cruddas held a breakfast morning in celebration of all the local residents who take part in volunteering activities for him, the event was a huge success and was a fantastic opportunity for Jon to meet his local volunteers. Following the success of the last meeting and the increase in active local volunteers Jon will be holding the event again this July.

Jon Cruddas explains that: “The main aim of the volunteer network is to have a volunteer on every street in order to help vulnerable members of the community and close the gaps that the government’s spending cuts are creating. It is encouraging to see so many local residents getting involved, providing an ‘early warning system’ that can help bring local issues to the attention of politicians, local authorities and voluntary groups.

“I would like to take the opportunity this week provides to say a huge thank-you to all of my volunteers who have really made an enormous impact on the local community. All of the sterling work they do in the constituency embodies the idea of the ‘good society’, and promotes community spirit with people lending a helping hand to their neighbours in these tough times.”

Jon is currently running a constituency and borough wide campaign to fight against the recent proposals to build a prison at Beam Reach. For more information on the prison plans visit Jon’s website www.joncruddas.org.uk. This campaign has brought with it many volunteering opportunities and anyone wishing to get involved should contact Andrew Achilleos for more details on: 020 8593 1555 or via email at: jcvolunteernet@gmail.com