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WRVS becomes Royal Voluntary Service

Monday, 20 May 2013

1.3 million over 75s will need support in future to stay independent

Today, 75 years on from its founding as the Women’s Voluntary Services, WRVS is dropping the W from its name and relaunching as the Royal Voluntary Service with a pledge to help two million older people over the next 10 years.

The decision to change its name comes as the charity recognises the need to meet the demands of an ageing population and to be more visible to men as well as women. And fresh research reveals the scale of this need – 26% of over 75 year olds say that they think they will need support in future in order to stay living independently in their own homes, with almost a third of men (29%) stating that is the case.

According to the research, over a quarter of over 75s (26%) are worried about their ability to stay independent in their own home in the future. Worryingly, five per cent said that they need support now, but are not getting it or that they have some support but it is not enough for their needs. Meanwhile, the majority (69%) say that they do not know what charity support is available.

It is hoped the charity’s new name and its new strapline, together for older people, will help dispel the myth that the Royal Voluntary Service is a women’s only organisation. It currently has over 6,000 male volunteers, but this is only a fifth of its total army of volunteers and it would like to increase this number and tap into the demand amongst men to volunteer, shown by previous WRVS research, which found that over three million men (3,209,000) are planning to volunteer in 2013. Furthermore, more men are needed to help support the 190,000 men over the age of 75 who live alone suffer from feelings of loneliness.

"We know that more older people than ever are going to need the support that our volunteers provide, which is why we are changing our name to make it clear we are not a charity that only supports women or just wants female volunteers. I’m really proud of the fact that since we were founded 75 years ago as the Women’s Voluntary Services, we have inspired volunteers to meet the main social challenges of the time and today we’re doing exactly the same: as the state contracts and the number of older people grow we are able to provide a solution through our volunteers who want to make a positive difference to the lives of the older people they support."

David McCullough, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service
For most older people, going into a care home is a last resort; today’s new research shows that over half of over 75s (57%) do not want to move into residential care, but almost a third (29%) say that without help they will not be able to remain in their own home.

Most people think that their family will help care for them in their old age (59%). However, previous WRVS research shows that families are increasingly fragmented with grown up children moving away from their ageing parents because of work or family commitments. 360,000 older people have grown up children that are too busy to see them.

Founded as the Women’s Voluntary Services in 1938, the organisation was initially formed to help recruit women into the Air Raid Precautions movement, helping civilians during and after air raids by providing emergency rest centres, feeding, first aid, and assisting with the evacuation and billeting of children. By 1943 the organisation had over one million volunteers and was involved in almost every aspect of wartime life from the collection of salvage to the knitting of socks and gloves for merchant seamen.

After the war Royal Voluntary Service transformed to become a leading organisation in the field of social care, pioneering many of the practices that formed the cornerstone of modern social services. Since then, the work of Royal Voluntary Service has evolved and the charity now provides practical help to older people that enables them to enjoy an improved quality of life.

For further information

Royal Voluntary Service is a volunteer organisation that enriches the lives of older people and their families across Britain. We support older people by giving time and practical help to help them get the best from life. Our volunteers – ordinary men and woman of all ages and ethnicities – love spending time with the older people. Through them, we want to help create a society where everyone feels valued and involved whatever their age.

Find out how you could become a WRVS volunteer, call 0845 601 4670 today or search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation to Royal Voluntary Service.

If you are a member of the press and have a media enquiry please contact the Media Department. For all other enquires, contact us.

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