ACE (Action in Caerau & Ely) – A Case Study of ‘Happy Volunteers, Happy Community’

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Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE), a long-time member of C3SC, provides vital services that help individuals, including elderly individuals, stay connected to the community. In many ways, volunteers serve as the only link to social interaction for those in need. This is one of many examples of how local volunteers contribute in Caerau and Ely.

ACE held an evening of celebration to express gratitude for the contributions of local volunteers over the last year – ‘ACE Volunteer Thank You & Awards Event’. Volunteers gathered for the occasion, which featured a delectable spread of food, an awards ceremony, and an entertaining lucky draw! This event served as an acknowledgment of the integral role played by local volunteers within the community and their dedication to driving positive change.

In April 2023, ACE was awarded the ‘Investing in Volunteers’ (IiV) accreditation for the first time by the UK Volunteering Forum (UKVF). This nationally recognised achievement is a testament to ACE’s volunteer-focused management and procedures. Being awarded this achievement signifies that ACE has successfully passed the quality check in six quality standard areas. You can read more about the IiV here.

Through its ‘by community, for community’ approach, ACE has fostered a mutually beneficial relationship between volunteers and the community, resulting in positive impacts for both those who give and receive support. Below are some of the highlights revealed by the volunteers’ speeches during the awards ceremony:

  • In the testimonies, volunteers expressed having had experienced personal transformation, which has not only boosted the volunteers’ confidence with overcoming personal barriers – it also further renewed a sense of purpose and hope for the future in many.
  • ACE creates a supportive and inclusive environment where volunteers feel safe, valued and part of a close-knit community. The supportive staff and fellow volunteers are described as ‘family’.
  • By bringing people together within the community with volunteer programmes, volunteering becomes an opportunity to build connections at ACE, forming meaningful and lasting relationships with individuals that might not have encountered volunteering otherwise.
  • ACE provides volunteers with training and development opportunities, enabling them to develop valuable skills that might otherwise be challenging to access elsewhere – and all of this without any cost.
  • Volunteers expressed a strong sense of belonging and feeling appreciated within ACE. ACE values their contributions, provides regular feedback and recognition, and helps them see the impact they are making in the community, as exemplified with this ACE Celebration.
  • Several volunteers have mentioned that volunteering with ACE has had a positive impact on individuals’ mental health – helping them alleviate anxiety, find a sense of purpose, and regain their social lives.
  • By sharing their positive volunteering experiences at ACE, volunteers do not only refer others to seek support from ACE, but also encourage them to consider volunteering themselves. As a result, ACE has successfully established a positive cycle of volunteering within the community, as many beneficiaries end up being volunteers themselves.

Hywel is a prime example of the points above – volunteering with ACE’s Benthyg Library of Things, a community project that promotes borrowing instead of buying. He actively promotes cost-saving and environmentally-friendly approaches. Remarkably, his efforts have already reached and impacted over 26,000 individuals. Hywel attributes his accomplishments to the supportive ACE staff, who have provided him with encouragement, forthcomingness and valuable development opportunities. Hywel warmly acknowledged the Thank You and Awards Celebration as a touching gesture that honours the immense contributions of volunteers to the community. His dedication to volunteering serves as an inspiration – encouraging others to follow suit and contribute their time and effort to make a positive difference.

ACE exemplifies the principle of ‘happy volunteers, happy community.’ By acknowledging and addressing the needs of the volunteers, it comes in a full cycle, which will only benefit the community in the long term.

In the words of Marian Dixey, Chair of Trustees, ‘People need us’ and ‘Everyone here deserves an award’. This sentiment underscores the essential nature of ACE’s work and the recognition it bestows upon all individuals in the community who give and receive.

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