A week-long (June 20 to 23) virtual showcase for Wiltshire’s charities and community groups will highlight the work of hundreds of professionals and volunteers.

Carer Support Wiltshire (pictured above) will be one of the groups showcasing its services at the Voluntary Expo from June 20 to 23

Voluntary Expo, which is being organised by Wessex Community Action and runs online from June 20 to 23, will feature charities and groups working in the county talking about their work and outlining the services they offer.

Four days of virtual presentations will feature up to four charities or groups each morning and afternoon. There will be a chance to take part in Q&A sessions after each ten minute presentation. Each session can be booked individually.

Wessex Community Action chief executive Amber Skyring said the expo is an opportunity for the sector to show off what it does and has been prompted in part by the new Integrated Care Alliance for Swindon and Wiltshire, which will run its health services in place of the Clinical Commissioning Group.

“They might know some of the larger charities by name but they don’t know who about all the other organisations are on the ground delivering services first hand to people, before they come into contact with acute and chronic health services or what a difference they make,” she said. “As we will be working much more closely together in the future this is one of hopefully many opportunities to gain insight to who the voluntary and community sector are and what we do.”

She hopes staff working in the NHS, as well as bodies such as Wiltshire Council, will book into the sessions. “We want to help them understand that while volunteers do run many amazing community groups, the vast majority are run by professional, highly qualified staff who operate successful, effective not-for-profit charities providing services that help support and enable residents to live their best lives,” she said.

“We are trying to shine a light on a hard-working and extremely impactful sector and get across the fact that we shouldn’t be seen as a service that is ‘nice to have’ doing ‘nice work’. We don’t want to be seen as just offering ‘tea and sympathy’ when it is so much more and what we do makes a real difference to peoples’ lives.”

Organisers are hoping Wiltshire residents and other charities will join in to find about the work that is going on, volunteering opportunities and other ways of supporting the sector.

Among the groups taking part are Wiltshire Community Foundation, Citizens Advice, Age UK Wiltshire, Youth Adventure Trust, Home-Start Kennet, Alzheimer’s Support and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, as well as Chippenham Cycle Network Development.

“We have got a real mix of groups and charities in both size and scope to give a picture of the amazing work that goes on in the county,” said Mrs Skyring. “We want people to understand what these organisations are delivering.

“For instance, if you look at someone like Wiltshire Wildlife Trust you could be forgiven for thinking they are just there for conservation but they deliver brilliant services dealing with mental health support, employability programs and tackling loneliness and isolation.

“The range of services and the way we work is integral to a thriving healthy community and we just want to get that message out.”

All of the presentations will also be available on Wessex Community Action’s YouTube channel. For more information about Voluntary Expo and how to book sessions is at wessexcommunityaction.org/expo.