MPs and community workers have praised a new independent online platform that connects and promotes voluntary groups with supporters, volunteers and people needing help.
Wiltshire Together was launched by Salisbury-based Wessex Community Action in October using a grant from the National Lottery and already has more than 200 groups and individuals signed up as members.
Wessex Community Action chief executive Amber Skyring said the platform is an important tool for charity groups in the wake of the pandemic. “Although the site was created by us, it is completely independent and run by the members,” she said.
“I am so pleased that so many have already joined and are taking advantage of Wiltshire Together. Members can connect with one another and share information easily which helps them pool resources and learn from one another at a time when groups are still recovering from the last nine months.”
The site has an activities section where members can advertise their events, campaigns, projects and workshops. Each listing has links to tickets and booking forms, contact details and as much information as organisers want to share.
“Listings can be imported from Facebook or Twitter so it saves time for people doing the administration,” said Mrs Skyring.
Anyone who needs help can search for groups, activities or people in their area. The site also allows people to register as volunteers and list their experience and skills. The site then matches them to any groups needing help that fits them.
There is also a Project Teams section where members from different groups engaged in a project can securely share information, ideas and resources.
Salisbury MP John Glen is backing the site and says it will help the community work more closely together. “There is a strong tradition of philanthropy in this area. Wiltshire Together is a fantastic resource to connect communities, charities and organisations – both with people who need their help but also with individuals who have time and skills to give.
“I’m so glad Wessex Community Action has developed the platform to connect voluntary groups and charities with the communities they serve. I would encourage groups to sign up to it.”
Devizes MP Danny Kruger, who recently wrote a report on the future of the voluntary sector for the Prime Minister, said: “This year we’ve been reminded of the importance of our community charities, with more people reaching out to volunteer organisations and groups than ever before.
“Wiltshire Together is a brilliant initiative that will aid this process by connecting volunteers with the right opportunities and coordinating the county’s myriad of charities so individuals can easily find the right, local support when needed. I hope as many people as possible will join me in registering, and that this tool will be a great success in boosting Wiltshire’s communities.”
Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan said: “I am delighted to see the launch of the Wiltshire Together platform thanks to the hard work of Wessex Community Action, with funding from the National Lottery. Volunteers and community groups have been at the forefront of the country’s response to the pandemic and their work will continue long after we have the virus under control. Any resource to bring these groups together, share information and reach out to those in need is an excellent resource for local people.”
Warminster Action Group trustee Annie Davis said the site has helped her group make more contacts across the county. “I’ve found out about events and a lot of information about what is going on in the county,” she said.
“For a new group like us, it is really helpful because we’ve found out a lot about who’s working out there and what organisations there are. There is nowhere else where you can go and find all this out in one place and I hope more people get behind it.”
Mrs Skyring said the rapid growth in people joining the site has pleased her. “We set a target of 200 members by Christmas and that seemed quite tough when we launched but we are on course to exceed that at the current rate so I am really delighted.
“It is exciting to see the groups that have joined and the way that they interact with each other. The site is for its members and we will continue to develop it according to what they want.”
Go to wiltshiretogether.org.uk or for more information about the site contact Wessex Community Action on 01722 326822.