This week we launch our I can do that! column looking at one area where a volunteer is making a difference. We also have 50 opportunities for Standard readers to fill. Charlotte Shepherd spoke to Cotswold Volunteers who have been at the heart of volunteering for 50 years.

LAST month charity Cotswold Volunteers organised a Volunteer Fair in Cirencester with the aim of matching potential volunteers with charities needing help.

“It was a great success,” said Judy Mills, volunteer co-ordinator for Cotswold Volunteers.

“We had a constant stream of people in, all new to volunteering, and each of the 14 organisations represented on the day had people sign up.”

This sort of “matchmaking” service has been at the heart of what Cotswold Volunteers does for the last 50 years.

“Fifty years is an incredible milestone,” said chief executive Jane Winstanley. “Volunteers are needed more today than ever before. It can be a great way for people who are unemployed to keep their confidence up. Employers now look for volunteering on CV’s.”

Earlier this year the Cotswold Centre for Voluntary Services changed its name to Cotswold Volunteers to spell out to the public what the organisation was all about.

“We relaunched over the summer and it is now clearer what we do,” explained Miss Mills.

Cotswold Volunteers is the agency that charities contact when they need to find a volunteer. “Any organisation in the Cotswolds can register with us if they want volunteers and we will help to find them.”

Around 350 organisations are registered with the Cotswold Volunteers. “Oxfam have just approached us to find volunteers to help setting up a fundraising group in Cirencester,” said Miss Mills.

Additionally, those who are looking to volunteer can get in touch with the organisation and access its database of over 300 vacancies.

Around 10 volunteers each week are coming to Cotswold Volunteers looking to be matched. “People traditionally think that it is only charity shop work but you could walk someone’s dog, volunteer on a conservation project or work with young people in youth clubs. And if you have a particular skill we can find an organisation out there that needs you,” said Miss Mills.

And for those potential volunteers who need a bit of extra help, Cotswold Volunteers runs a Mental Health Support Service.

As well as its volunteer database, Cotswold Volunteers also operates low cost transport in the community, through its Dial-A-Ride minibus and Volunteer Car Scheme, provides help at day care schemes in Cirencester and Tetbury and runs its owns charity shops in Fairford and Lechlade.

“Our community bus service runs for the elderly or those whose mobility is restricted and our drivers help people to get to hospital and GP appointments. Our day care centres help to bring people together for a hot meal and some company,” explained Miss Mills.

Fifty years on the Cotswold Volunteers is embracing the modern world of volunteering. Volunteers can now search all vacancies on the website and the charity plans to set up a facebook page.

“We want to show that volunteering has changed. It is a real mix of ages and our facebook page will reach young people.”

* If you would like to find out more about volunteering please contact Cotswold Volunteers on 01285 658 802 or email Judy Mills: * Cotswold Volunteers lists all of its vacancies on a national database