“Volunteers really are the backbone of our community,” says Cr. Steve Allan, Mayor of the Bellingen Shire Council. “They all, together, create community.”

If you asked a volunteer why they do what they do, very few would say it’s for the recognition. And yet, volunteer recognition is one of the most important actions anyone can take.

When we celebrate volunteers, we celebrate a love of community. We encourage a sense of togetherness that inspires us to look out for each other, to take meaningful action, and to ask ourselves how we can give service today.

Our Volunteer of the Year Awards is one of the biggest volunteer recognition programs in the state, and it grows with each year. On the eve of the Regional Awards Ceremony of the Mid North Coast, we spoke with Mayor Stephen Allan about the importance of volunteering in the region.

Volunteers really do make the world go round. It’s a tangible difference – Cr. Steve Allan

The Bellingen Shire

Mayor Stephen Allan is an unwavering fan of the Shire.

“I love that my community is really diverse, really passionate and really cares about the environment,” he tells us. He celebrates “the passion that people bring to so many different areas.”

Since becoming Mayor, “what’s impressed me is their innate resilience,” he shares, attributing this strength to volunteering.

The Role of Volunteers

Community spirit is alive and well in the Bellingen Shire, something that long-term local, Mayor Stephen Allan, has seen firsthand.

“We could not deliver on so many of our projects without the help of volunteers,” he says. “They are absolutely vital to our work and to our community.”

The Shire is renowned for its creative and cultural richness, something that would not be possible without the support of volunteers.

“Through volunteers, we can be leading in the country,” says Cr. Steve Allan, who also promotes the benefits of volunteering to the individual. “They can pick up some valuable life skills,” for one.

“You get so much more out of volunteering. For everything you give, you get back in spades.”

Volunteer Recognition

In light of the Regional Awards Ceremony, Mayor Stephen Allan believes it is “so important to recognise volunteers because of the important work they do.”

These people “give selflessly,” he says, and “it’s the only thanks they get sometimes.”

Volunteer recognition raises awareness, raises the profile of volunteering, and “hopefully inspires others” to get involved. But most volunteers may not expect recognition, and even fewer will ask for it.

Even still, Cr. Steve Allan says that, “we need to take the time to congratulate them…and put them on a pedestal.”

Besides that, “people like the opportunity to pat someone on the back.”

It’s safe to say that community spirit throughout Bellingen Shire and the Mid North Coast region is alive and well, encouraged both by leaders like Mayor Stephen Allan and local efforts towards volunteer recognition.

Get Inspired

Do you want to see more volunteer recognition? Check out these three ways you can get inspired amidst the #2023VolunteerOfTheYearAwards: