The Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service column with Karen Weaver

This week we’ve had the pleasure of being joined by an A Level student from Ashville College on work experience. Ensuring she’s had a varied and interesting week has been a reminder of just how many different things HARCVS is involved in and the range of skills required.

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 11:00 am
Ashville College A Level student Bernie during her time with HARCVS.

Bernie hopes to study Business Studies and Law at university and so she’s helped out with some market research on office accommodation costs and hot desking around Harrogate, and also had an initial look at some legal documentation that needs updating for us. As I explained to Bernie, the better informed I am on the questions to ask the lawyers we need to appoint, the lower I can keep the final bill.

Bernie’s been out and about too. This started in rather grand style on Day One as we loaded the car up to take display boards, pull up banners and other kit to Ripon Cathedral. After helping get everything set up Bernie was on duty meeting and greeting guests arriving for the event to celebrate the first anniversary of The Local Lotto and the launch of The Local Fund for 2019. As well as welcoming Friends of The Local Fund and organisations who received grants last year we were honoured to have a number of civic dignitaries attending, including the Mayors of the Harrogate District and Pateley Bridge and the Deputy Mayor of Boroughbridge. As the newly appointed Deputy Lieutenant, Dean John Dobson, arrived with the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mrs Jo Ropner, I explained to Bernie that she is the Queen’s representative in the county.

That certainly doesn’t happen every day!

Just as importantly, Bernie met some of our lovely volunteers and clients when she helped out at the monthly craft group hosted by our Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP). There she was taught how to knit by one of our senior participants.

She supported one of our Here to Help sessions at Bilton Health and Wellbeing Hub and helped the HELP Ripon and Rural team on a stall at a health information event at Ripon Library.

Bernie also did a couple of stints on our busy reception at Harrogate Community House. Fifteen charities and community organisations have offices here, including Open Country, Crossroads Care, Girl Guiding North Yorkshire West County, IDAS, MESMAC, Harrogate District Deaf Society, Supporting Older People, Fair Trade Harrogate, the Stroke Association, Royal British Legion, Horton Housing, Presence Church, Time for God and Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington.

This makes for an interesting role as a receptionist liaising with all these organisations and their customers, as well as handling enquiries by phone and from people calling in to visit the centre.

In addition the two meeting rooms are well used by a range of groups for adult education classes, training, workshops and networks. This was also the first week of providing a temporary home for some activities run by the Skills4Living charity whilst they have work done on their premises on North Park Road.

All in all a busy week for Bernie and, for me, an interesting opportunity to reflect on the depth and breadth of work we’re involved in through a fresh and much younger pair of eyes.

For more information on Harrogate Community House, including office and meeting room availability, please visit, ring 01423 503700 or just call in (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm).