A sailing teacher without an eye, a man who makes cocktails in care homes and women fighting period poverty in schools are among thousands of volunteers who work for free to change lives in their spare time.
Volunteer week, which runs from June 1-7, sees charities and groups get together to recognise the contribution volunteers make to communities across the UK.
Here are just a handful of the volunteers being celebrated this week at Metro.co.uk.
The sailor inspiring disadvantaged and disabled young people
Jack Dignan, 21, was born with only one eye. A few years ago, he was contacted by the MACS charity, that supports children who are born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes.
MACS arranged for a group of partially-sighted children to sail with Ocean Youth Trust South, which runs sailing trips on the south coast of England.
Jack stood out on that first voyage as a really inspiring young person who was quickly recommended by the skipper to sail with OYT again.
He has since qualified as a volunteer watch leader, joined OYT Souths Board of Trustees and works with disadvantaged and vulnerable young people from all backgrounds.
In a speech made at the Trust previously, Jack said: I fully appreciate that it is of course possible to learn a particular set of social skills in the classroom.
However, I do not think that the opportunity to build confidence, to teach tolerance and to witness development is in any way comparable with the opportunity that programmes such as the Ocean Youth Trust South provide.
For more, visit the Ocean Youth Trust South website.
The women tackling period poverty
Anna Miles helped set up The Red Box Project last year alongside Liesl Rose, Jo Willoughby and Clegg Bamber.
They were spurred into action when they read an article about Freedom 4 Girls – a charity providing free sanitary items to women in Kenya – who had been contacted by a school in Leeds.
We were astonished that this was an issue in the UK, Anna told Metro.co.uk.
Digging a little deeper, she found that the issue extended beyond Leeds to other parts of the country, including her own home town of Portsmouth.
When she set up a Facebook page to offer help, she says she was flooded with stories from women who had suffered.
We were inundated with stories from women and girls using socks and tissue as makeshift sanitary towels, missing school and feeling ashamed to ask for help, she said.
What comes in a Red Box?
- Sanitary towels
- Spare underwear (in a variety of sizes)
- Bags to discreetly carry sanitary towels in
Some boxes will have wipes, deodorant and shampoo/conditioner if schools make special requests.
We are led by pupil need and the fantastic knowledge teachers have about their pupils, Anna said.
A coordinator selects one school to begin with and works with their local communities to fund raise, spread the word and drive donations of items.
Anna said: Our ethos is and always will be that we quietly support our young women to ensure that they do not miss out on their education because they have their period.
The level of kindness shown by others to support our coordinators has been overwhelming and I think this translates in the presentation of boxes and the feedback we gain from teachers who tell us how much the boxes have helped their pupils.
We are also grateful to groups of individuals who have heard about our project and install boxes within their home and business setting which people can then drop off donations to.
If you would like to set up your own Red Box Project, email: [email protected]
The man who makes cocktails in care homes
In an effort to bridge the gap between the generations and tackle the epidemic of loneliness, intergenerational charity Magic Me set up an initiative to create cocktail hour at care homes.
Chris Ali has been volunteering with the scheme for over five years and is now a party manager.
To be honest, when I first started volunteering I didnt really know what I was getting myself into, he said.
Six years I ago I went from working multiple part-time jobs which took up almost all my time, to a full-time 35-hour a week job.
I had an abundance of free time that I was struggling to fill and was finding that I was becoming bored because of it.
After reading an article in Metros newspaper, he was inspired to start up a cocktail party of his own
At first it definitely took some getting used to being in the care home environment and interacting with older residents as I had never experienced it before.
But having been involved and running one of my own parties as a Party Manager, Ive gained so much over my time spent on the project but by far the biggest thing Ive gained is perspective.
Volunteering: The Stats
According to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), 37% of the UK population volunteer at least once a year, with 22% volunteering at least once a month.
Volunteering contributes an estimated £22.6 billion to the UK economy and the most common reason people give for why they volunteer is to improve life for others.
The couple saving 50,000 battery hens
There are more than 600 volunteers at the British Hen Welfare Trust who give up every weekend to rescue commercial hens – upwards of 50,000 of them every year.
David Marek and his wife Sarah, who volunteer in Shropshire, joined the charity in 2015 after adopting some former battery hens and realising how addictive it is to watch them flourish.
David and Sarah take part in all aspects of re-homing events, from unloading crates to handling hens and disinfecting crates once everything is finished.
He also attends school workshops and keeps two of the charitys sponsor hens himself which anyone can adopt.
Speaking about why he chose to volunteer, David said: I like to think that Im contributing to the overall bigger picture of what the charity is aiming to do.
The re-homing days are great and its very rewarding seeing hundreds of hens getting the chance of a new life with people who will give them a loving home.
I also enjoy speaking to people about hen welfare in this country and the different choices that people can make when buying eggs.
If youre interested in becoming a volunteer, call 01884 860084.
The women who become mates to mothers during pregnancy
Maternity Mates recruit, train and match-up volunteers with pregnant women living in deprived areas who are in need of extra support.
It currently runs in east London, covering Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest, but it plans to expand into other London boroughs and if successful, start a nationwide service.
Hundreds of women have already been supported by over 170 accredited volunteers.
Do you volunteer? Want to share your story? Email [email protected]