STUDENTS in Cyprus are being encouraged to make good use of the summer holidays by offering their time to volunteer for worthwhile causes.
The Pan Cyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council has issued a call for students of all ages to give their free time and help in the community with a range of programmes including, environmental issues, such as helping to clean up beaches and parks, or to visit elderly people that may be lonely and in need of companionship.
A spokesperson for the council told the Sunday Mail that all sorts of initiatives are available to those that want to help and that participants will reap rewards from volunteering in some way, and for any amount of time that they can give.
“It is a great feeling to help and students can volunteer in cleanliness campaigns or spend some time reading to an elderly person, playing backgammon with them or simply discussing topics of interest. There is so much that can be done to help,” she said.
In addition, students that may have their own ideas can contact their local volunteer centre to find out more information or to share their idea of voluntary action.
“Many people in our community face various problems such as lack of essentials, health problems, loneliness and so much more and need our help, now is the time to take action.”
An annual island wide campaign is also underway which encourages students to help other children of needy families start the school year in September with all of the necessary paraphernalia, both new and used.
“We are collecting items for students such as, school clothing and shoes, school bags, stationary, pencils, pens, books, educational and so on. Some poor families cannot afford to buy these.”
Through their contacts or initiatives, students donate these items to the council which are then distributed to the needy.
“This way, they have volunteered and helped those in need,” she said.
There are no age limits placed on those taking part and often smaller children show an interest in helping others.
“As long as a child wants to volunteer they can, as long as younger ones are accompanied by their parents or a guardian,” she said.
She added that young people that utilise their free time in this way make a positive difference to their community, make new friends and also learn new skills which they may not event be aware of at the time.
A range of programmes and initiatives are available, and would- be volunteers can visit the local volunteer centre where specialist coordinators will meet with them, find out their interest and match them with a project.
“We have coordinators and centres in all districts and each area has different needs and therefore different projects,” she said, “these youngsters can really make a difference.”
The Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council was founded in 1973 and it operates within an updated legal framework concerning the voluntary sector and volunteerism in general. Their aim is to promote volunteering, develop this ethos and to help coordinated volunteering sectors and NGOs.
“Volunteering is a unique experience and this summer young people can make a difference and give joy to people that need them.”
Volunteer centres contact numbers:
Nicosia 22512602, Limassol 25737761, Larnaca 24650525, Famagusta 99124521, Paphos 26953725, Kyrenia 97743185