Shropshire Star

Big Help Out volunteers plant community coronation orchard in Newport

In the final day of coronation celebrations, thousands of charities and community groups came together for the Big Help Out.

People in Newport came together to plant an orchard to mark the King's Coronation.

Around 30,000 organisations put on around 55,000 events across the country to mark the crowning of Charles III with a showcase of volunteering.

In Newport, volunteers were both occupied and celebrated with their event, which saw groups turn out to plant a community coronation orchard in Victoria Park.

Around 40 volunteers from several of the town's community groups came together to plant fruit trees in a lasting tribute to the coronation and the town's strong volunteering network.

Councillor Peter Scott, centre, with John Moreton and Gareth Lambe and the Newport Rotary tree

Newport councillor Peter Scott explained: "We've had a huge group of volunteers from 13 of Newport's community group's represented.

"Each group came and planted their own tree, which will be labelled with their group name."

Volunteers from the local Rotary club, a walking group, local litter-pickers and The Hub - a youth club and community cafe - were all in attendance to plant the fruit trees.

Apple, pear, plum and damson trees were planted, which will provide Newport's residents and visitors with free, fresh fruit for the foreseeable future.

Councillor Scott added: "It has been put there with the future in mind, which is exactly what The King wanted, for volunteers to do something that will help others for years to come.

"It was very heartening to see so many people come down, it went really very well."

People in Newport came together to plant an orchard to mark the King's Coronation.

Organisers of the Big Help Out said six million people were expected to take part in the scheme across the country, through arranging their own community events or working with groups such as the Samaritans, Scouts or The Trussell Trust.

One of the organisers, co-founder of the Together Coalition, Brendan Cox, said many organisations were in "desperate need" of volunteers.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Over the Covid pandemic, volunteering rates dropped because organisations that normally recruit weren't recruiting, and people got out of the habit."

Recent data from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO suggest that volunteering and fundraising numbers had not recovered since the pandemic.

Those raising money or taking part in sponsored events had fallen from 11 per cent to six per cent since 2018.

CEO of NCVO, Sarah Vibert said she hoped the Big Help Out would be the turning point for volunteering numbers.

She said: "The impact of Covid-19 on volunteering has been profound. People who were lifelong volunteers broke their habit during the pandemic and haven’t yet got back to it. We need an urgent focus on helping people find opportunities that suit them.

"From our own volunteering numbers, we think we’re starting to see some of the green shoots of a volunteering recovery. However, The Big Help Out is the much-needed boost the sector needs.

"It would be an amazing legacy if the Coronation were to be a turning point in national volunteering rates."

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