In the first two weeks of June, charities and third sector organisations will come together to celebrate volunteers. Across the UK a staggering 21 million people volunteer at least once a week, contributing an estimated £23.9bn to the UK economy. At Age UK Wiltshire, we rely on 280 volunteers to help deliver key services such as Befriending, Information and Advice, Toe-Nail Cutting Clinics, Fitness & Friendship and Café clubs. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to help so many older people in Wiltshire and Swindon.
Volunteering is not a new phenomenon, but with recent budget cuts as well as lifestyle changes and housing pressures, it has become increasingly important to hold communities together. Our volunteers visit socially isolated older people, providing them with an opportunity for social interaction when many of them go for over a month without talking to a friend, neighbour or family member; they help older people navigate the complex benefits allowance systems and ensure they get the support they need to lead an independent life for as long as possible; they take on the role of facilitators/hosts/entertainers at our various fitness and café clubs and at the independent community day centre charities that we support, which provide a meeting point for frail older people and a respite for their carers.
All of our volunteers love what they do and talk about the rewarding aspect of their roles. ‘In the busyness of life, it’s easy to forget that some people are really struggling in their personal situations. Volunteering takes very little of my time, yet it makes a massive difference to the person (and family) you are helping, says Mark, a 41-year-old befriending volunteer. And as for our clients, they are very aware of the kindness that our volunteers have shown them: ‘thank you Ruth’, says our client Daisy to her telephone befriender volunteer, ‘you keep me alive’.
Thank you indeed.
Age UK Wiltshire is a charity that aims to enable older people in Wiltshire and Swindon to lead a fulfilling life. We believe that age deserves respect, kindness and sometimes a bit of help. To find out more about our volunteer roles and volunteering, please check http://www.ageuk.org.uk/wiltshire/get-involved/volunteering/