VOLUNTEERS are being praised for their hard work and dedication supporting people and communities across Bolton.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration – now in its 37th year – of the contribution and dedication of millions of volunteers who give up their time in the service of others.

Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi is using the week to pay tribute to two charities in particular which have bases in her Bolton South East constituency - Urban Outreach and Fortalice.

Ms Qureshi said: "Throughout this pandemic we have seen the value of volunteers and the crucial role they play. The vaccine rollout has been a monumental effort which could not have been undertaken without the assistance of hard working volunteers.”

“In particular I want to pay tribute to the work of Urban Outreach, based in my constituency. Throughout the pandemic, as well as providing their foodbank services, they have gone above and beyond to support the homeless in Bolton.”

The charity has helped more than 22,000 people through the pandemic alone.

Dave Bagley, CEO of Urban Outreach said: "The work our regular 350 volunteers and the additional 2,000 volunteers has been absolutely crucial at the best of times, but without them during the pandemic we wouldn’t have managed.

"Our service demand has increased significantly, and the staff and volunteers have responded amazingly. I am so thankful for their work and their commitment to Urban Outreach and more importantly Bolton.”

The parliamentarian has also recognised Fortalice refuge for its work which involves supporting women, children and young people fleeing domestic abuse - as well as providing counselling and mental health services.

Ms Qureshi added: “Moreover, I want to also pay tribute to the work Gill Smallwood and the team do at Fortalice. Their caseload has increased significantly during the pandemic and despite this they have continued to provide safe shelter for victims of domestic abuse, as well as a range of classes and services to provide further support.”

Gill Smallwood, Chief Executive of Fortalice said: "I am so grateful for all the volunteers who support us in the work we do with victims of domestic abuse.

"Working together helps us keep victims and children safe."