Sarah Calderbank (pictured second from right at a fundraising event for DanceSyndrome) is the Project Coordinator for DanceSyndrome’s Spirit of 2012 funded project. She has been involved with the charity since 2014, initially as a volunteer before being employed in 2015. Sarah’s role involves promoting the charity and recruiting people to our workshops and training courses, as well as organising and attending performance at events. Here she writes about the significant role that volunteers play in driving small charities forward.
I’ve written in blogs before about the significant impact that volunteers have on small charities like DanceSyndrome. In particular there is a blog I wrote last year about the big impact of small acts of Micro-volunteering and another that Dance Leader Helen Shepherd wrote about how she personally benefited from starting a volunteering role.
As part of Volunteers Week 2018, I wanted to go into more detail about the impact that volunteers have on DanceSyndrome’s work. In the last 12-28 months this is something that I have become more and more aware of as our work has evolved and expanded in ways that we wouldn’t have thought possible when I first started working with DanceSyndrome in 2015!
Of course, it has always been clear to us that volunteers are fundamental to the work we do. Like all charities we have a board of Trustees and four Patrons who all volunteer their time and expertise to help keep the charity running on a day to day basis. Similarly, our core company of performance artists is comprised of volunteers who dedicate a lot of time and effort into rehearsing and performing our contemporary dance performance pieces. The families and carers of our Dance Leaders must also be recognised for their unfailing commitment to our work and going above and beyond to help with organising events, providing feedback and ideas and fundraising to keep our work happening. Together they have formed the DanceSyndrome Select Team and they hold regular meetings to discuss the ways that they would like to see our charity progress and evolve. They really are incredibly dedicated!
The hard work of this group of volunteers was recognised in 2016 when the team was awarded the Sporting Chance Award at the national Learning Disability and Autism Awards (and in 2017 they performed at the Awards event!) Dance Leader Becky Rich was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2016 Pride Awards and Dance Leader Anna James recently won the Student Volunteer of the Year Award at the UCLan Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership (CVCL) Awards in May 2018! We are so proud that our volunteers have gained this recognition and also incredibly grateful for the awareness that they raise for our charity through winning these awards.
Without this level of commitment from these volunteers, the last year would have looked very different for DanceSyndrome. In August 2017, our dancers made their debut performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a dream come true for our Dance Leaders, Dance Artists and support staff alike! Those performances created a sense of pride and achievement, a demonstration of professionalism and provided a whole new learning experience for every member of our team and we are all very proud of this achievement and thankful for the amazing opportunity.
This opportunity would never have become a reality without the hard work of many dedicated volunteers. The performance and all related expenses were funded through donations from the public, which were generated by several volunteers who organised fundraising events and sponsored activities and generated an unprecedented amount of funds, way beyond what we expected at the start of the campaign (more details on this blog thanking people for their contributions).
The performances were also more successful than anticipated, drawing audiences much larger than expected, purely thanks to the volunteers who went out on the streets of Edinburgh to promote the show and talk to the public about our work. Volunteer Dance Leader Becky Rich even gave a journalist an interview stood in the middle of the Royal Mile!
(Image: Becky is interviewed in Edinburgh by a journalist from “Humans of the Fringe“)
"I'm from DanceSyndrome. This year we are putting a show on for the Orbit tour. It represents everything like…
This success is something we are hoping to replicate this year with a return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Again, we are relying on volunteers to fundraise for the trip to be a success and, again, we are overwhelmed by their efforts! So far we have had an amazing team of volunteers running 10k and marathon races, Dance Leader Anna walked the Preston Guild Wheel, our Admin team and their families did a sponsored walk, Dance Leader Pauline did a sponsored swim and Pauline’s family also organised a fundraising film screening of last year’s Edinburgh show (highlights of which are in the video below). They are all doing amazing fundraising work and you can keep up to date with the progress towards our £10,000 target on our Just Giving page.
I’m sure you agree that the work our volunteers do is incredible and that their achievements are amazing! We really couldn’t manage without the time and effort that they give to us. If you are inspired as much as we are and would like more information about how you can volunteer with DanceSyndrome please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or you can download a fundraising pack for some ideas about how you can help us.
Here are the highlights of the 2017 performances in Edinburgh. We can achieve amazing things with the help of volunteers!