Chesterfield volunteers come together to play their part in The Big Help Out

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An army of nature lovers are preparing to stage a mass litter pick and tidy-up at a Chesterfield beauty spot as part of a nationwide volunteering effort.

The Willow Walk, taking place this Saturday and Sunday to coincide with The Big Help Out, will see volunteers team up to tidy up the green space and the trail along the bank of the river Doe Lea.

There will be opportunities for those keen on gardening and DIY activities from 11am to 3pm on Saturday while a community BBQ with free entertainment and outdoor games will be held from 12pm to 4pm on Sunday.

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Organiser Richard Fearn said: “This weekend, millions of people are going to be doing extraordinary things in every community in the country and it feels amazing to be a part of that collective effort.

Gary Lineker is  among the celebrities backing the campaignGary Lineker is  among the celebrities backing the campaign
Gary Lineker is among the celebrities backing the campaign

“We’re looking forward to seeing people come together for the benefit of the local area and play their part in a project that’s going to make a difference to the lives of so many local people.”

The event is one of hundreds taking place across the country this weekend as part of this year’s ‘Big Help Out’ - a nationwide volunteering opportunity organised by The /Together Initiative, a coalition of some of the UK’s best known businesses and organisations.

The Big Help Out is central to a volunteering fight back as the sector recovers from the terrible impact of consecutive lockdowns, which broke the habit of volunteering for huge numbers all across the country. Figures from the latest NCVO ‘Time Well Spent’ report reveal volunteering remains 30 per cent lower than it was before the pandemic.

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Brendan Cox, co-founder of Together, said “Volunteering took a real hit from Covid, and numbers still haven’t recovered. That doesn’t just mean that community organisations have less capacity, it also means that too few people are getting the huge benefits of volunteering - it’s good for your mental health, good for self-esteem and a great way to meet people too.

“We’re urging people to join us and give it a go - it’s so rewarding and it really could be one of the best things you ever do.

Match of the Day host and former England striker Gary Lineker is among a host of celebrities backing the event and helped launch this year’s campaign.

Other events already scheduled to take place across the country for The Big Help Out include:

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· Hand on Heart’s Big Help Out Homeless Challenge: 1,000 essential packs, 15 locations, three days - bringing communities together nationwide.

· The Royal Voluntary Service is running its own ‘Open Doors’ campaign inviting the nation to find the right volunteering role for them across hundreds of opportunities.

· FareShare warehouses have uploaded roles across the UK onto the app asking people to get involved and help tackle hunger in their local area.

· Thousands of students across the country will be lending a hand with their local school, supported by Votes for Schools, Guide Dogs UK, #IWill and Bookmark Reading.

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· St. John Ambulance is hosting a giant collection where hundreds of volunteers will go out into their local communities to raise vital funds.

· Sport England will be encouraging local clubs to open their doors and host taster days.

· Marie Curie will be providing a range of volunteering opportunities to support a better end of life for more people, whatever the illness. They have a diverse array of roles to suit any interests, skills, time commitments, and availability.

· Asda community champions will be leading litter picks from hundreds of their stores across the UK as well as supporting their local grass roots and charities with volunteer opportunities

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The Big Help Out 2024 takes place on the 7-9 June. Last year 7 million people took part in Britain’s biggest volunteering opportunity, and it is backed by 30 well known volunteering charities who form the ‘Shaping the Future with Volunteering’ group.

For more information, and to find out how you can get involved, visit thebighelpout.org.uk/

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