One of the best things about being an MP is the chance I get to see the amazing work done by so many voluntary groups, community organisations and faith groups week-after-week all year round.

The fantastic success of the vaccine roll-out has been helped by the team of volunteers that are working alongside doctors, nurses, pharmacists and staff at vaccination centres around the country. We owe them so much.

This week is national Volunteers’ Week, an opportunity to recognise their work and also to give some overdue recognition to the contribution that all volunteers make to our community, often behind the scenes.

This week also marks the launch of ‘Commonwealth Collective’ which is the volunteering programme aiming to recruit 13,000 local people to help organise and be the public face of next year’s Commonwealth Games being held in Birmingham. Applying is really simple and can be done online at where there is also plenty of information about the different ways you can be involved.

To help promote the programme locally, earlier this week I visited Lions Amateur Boxing Club in Brierley Hill where I had the privilege of catching up with the club’s head coach, Kev Dillon.

Just last month, Kev was awarded a Hometown Hero award by the organisers of next year’s games. The award is given to those who go above and beyond to develop sport, encourage participation and promote physical and mental wellbeing in their community. Despite being visually impaired as a result of contracting viral meningitis as a child, Kev has devoted almost 20 years to training others to channel their talents and emotions through the discipline of amateur boxing – helping hundreds of local people, both young and old, to be the best they can.

But Kev doesn’t only help people through the channel of boxing. Along with his brother Lee and a few others, Kev also runs a podcast called ‘The Black Country Blokes’. The aim of the podcast is to encourage men to talk about any problems they have and to open up about their mental health. The podcast has been growing over the past few years, and I was pleased to join Kev and Lee for an episode last month which is now available online.

We have also seen other individuals and organisations really step-up elsewhere in the constituency, with some really fantastic work happening from our much-loved community centres – including: Nine Locks Community Centre, Woodside Community Centre, St Pauls Community and Learning Centre, William Street Community Centre, Brockmoor Community Centre, Pensnett Community Centre, Oak Field Community Centre, Wall Heath Community Centre, Dingle Community Centre, Wordsley Community Centre and, of course, the Fens Pool Community Centre.

After recently re-opening at Fens Pool, the team behind the Fens Pool Voluntary Association set up a new project called Small Steps to Making a Difference, which aims to help local people in need. Like many local charities, they have since been doing some really fantastic work.

Although the pandemic has brought some of the most challenging times any of us have known, it has also brought attention to so many of the brilliant acts of kindness which happen in our communities year in and year out.

I know this work will continue after the pandemic, and I personally would like to dedicate this week’s column to saying thank you to all those brilliant individuals and organisations who volunteer their time and help to make such a difference.