What we're saying
Find out what we're saying - where we share our thoughts and opinions and make comments on issues facing older people, volunteering and preventative care.
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“Healthier choices for food shopping in hospitals”
Kate Bull, Executive Director of Retail, tells us about the new shop opened in Hairmyres Hospital in East Lanarkshire.
Today is a momentous day; we’re opening a hospital shop with a difference. After cutting the ribbon and opening to the public, our Shop & Co in Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride will serve staff, patients and visitors with healthy groceries and refreshments. Like all of our 440 shops around Great Britain, it is managed locally and staffed by a team of friendly staff and volunteers.
Find out about our shops
Our research has found that eating healthily is one of the many struggles for NHS staff. 41 per cent of doctors and nurses in Scotland have one or no pieces of fruit and vegetables during a typical working day. We’re trying to make things as easy as possible to get hold of healthier food choices in hospitals; we launched our first Revitalise shop in October which specialises in delicious food with dietary options for gluten free and vegan customers. From today, you’ll be able to find sushi, salads, fruit, dried fruit and healthy take home products such as cauliflower rice and soups at Shop & Co.
We know the access to healthier food and drink choices through our shops and cafes will have a huge impact on the health of hospital staff, visitors and patients in Scotland. Our predictions show that our shops and cafés will provide 3.4 million people with access to healthier food and drink. A focus on healthier snacks will see 30,000 portions of fruit and vegetables consumed and fat consumption from crisps will reduce by three million grams while salt consumption will be reduced by 15,000 teaspoons.
Anything sold in Shop & Co, like all of our shops and cafés, is price matched against similar retailers so that you can be sure that you’re getting a good deal. And profits raised help to fund Royal Voluntary Service’s work supporting isolated older people like our Home from Hospital [link] service which helps the transition when someone is discharged. It’s been proven to reduce complications when an older person goes home and reduces the likelihood of a return visit to hospital. It’s a nice feeling when your shopping gives back to those in need.
Today is the next step in our transformation of our shops and cafés all over Great Britain to provide a modern shopping experience while incorporating healthy choices for all. We hope to work with other commissioners and hospital partners to provide a healthier retail experience.
Royal Voluntary Service hospital shops and cafés
provide a friendly face as well as refreshment to hospital patients, visitors and staff. Find out how to volunteer near you
“Victoria makes a huge difference to our lives"
Funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery are helping us to run a specialist service in Doncaster, helping older people with dementia and their carers. Wendy and Ken have only been using the Doncaster Dementia Support service for a short time but Victoria, their volunteer, has had a big impact on their lives.
“Victoria makes a huge difference to our lives; she is a lovely, gentle person. It’s an amazing relief for me that I don’t worry about Ken when she’s with him. She takes him in his wheelchair on her own and they go to the shops.”
While Ken was working as a Vicar in South London, he was crushed by a lorry and subsequently uses a wheelchair. Having recently retired and following a severe fall, tests revealed that he had suffered from a stroke leading to vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. His wife of 28 years, Wendy, is his main carer. They live together in a bungalow and find it difficult to get out and about, which can make them quite isolated.
“Both of us were very isolated. It’s lucky that we love each other very much. We try to be happy in all circumstances.”
Victoria visits Ken & Wendy for two hours every alternate Monday, so that Wendy and her daughter can get out of the house and do some shopping.
“I think I provide reassurance to Wendy, she knows that Ken is ok when I’m there. Ken and I play scrabble which is good for his memory. When we go to the shops, I encourage him to reach and get things from the shelves. I try and encourage his independence skills as much as possible.
“Volunteering gives me a sense of purpose, I feel valued and appreciated. I know that Wendy relies on me so I make sure I’m always on time. I know I make an impact, and because of that I feel more connected to the community I live in.”
Victoria has two small children and a third on the way, but she still finds time to volunteer, because she enjoys it.
“My Aunty passed away and I was grieving, my friend who is a volunteer suggested I do something to ‘brighten up my life.’ And it has, I am much happier for knowing Wendy and Ken.”
Thank you to People's Postcode Lottery players
for helping Royal Voluntary Service to make a difference to the lives of older people all over Great Britain. Join our team of volunteers
and improve lives near you.
“David has lifted my depression"
Meet Heulwen who has been matched with David through the Gwynedd Good Neighbours service after her husband passed away and she started to feel isolated and depressed. Visits from David have lifted her depression and made life worthwhile.
Heulwen was born in Caernarfon in Wales but spent most of her married life in Birmingham where her husband’s family lived. After nearly 40 years in the Midlands, they moved back to Caernarfon but so much had changed that Heulwen felt like a stranger.
When her husband died a few years ago, Heulwen was left on her own. Her eyesight started to deteriorate which meant she was no longer able to enjoy painting and gardening which she used to love.
David has been coming to see her for more than a year. He always brings cake to share and Heulwen makes the tea, and they chat.
“David is a very good companion. I always look forward to his visits. He reminds me of where I used to live, many years ago, before I moved to Birmingham. We reminisce and go over old memories and I feel happy when I do this - it reminds me of when I was young, of happier times. Talking to David lifts my mood.”
David is a retired sales manager in his mid-70s. He started volunteering after he lost his wife to breast cancer a few years ago:
“After my wife died, I started feeling depressed and the days seemed to be getting much longer. A friend suggested volunteering as a way of giving me a focus and it’s really helped me. It gets me out of the house and when I come home I have a real sense of satisfaction.”
David is always at the end of the phone if Heulwen has any problems and she says his visits have made a huge difference to her life:
“David has lifted my depression and he stops me feeling lonely. Nobody knows what loneliness is unless you have experienced it. It makes you feel unwanted”.
Thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery
, Royal Voluntary Service volunteers are able to help more many more people across Great Britain.
“Volunteering gives me so much joy”
Meet Shirley who volunteers twice a week serving coffee and cake at the Vintage Tea Room at Chesham House in Lancing. She also volunteers at their Lunch Club, which serves sociable meals to older people. She started volunteering a couple of years ago and it helped her to re-connect with life after losing her husband.
“I absolutely love volunteering
, it gives me so much joy. I was very down after losing my husband, who I had nursed for 6 years. I didn’t want to go out or do anything. It was only after some counselling sessions that I started to feel more positive about life. Someone recommended that I start volunteering and I haven’t looked back.”
Volunteer and make a difference
Shirley volunteers every Tuesday and Wednesday in the tea room with her friend Angela: “I serve the delicious homemade cakes and Angela makes the drinks. I met Angela through volunteering and we are a great double act! We just love chatting to the members and making people laugh.”
“I would recommend volunteering to anyone. After retiring it’s hard to just down tools and manage all the extra time you have. I was shy at first but I soon got into it and now can’t imagine my life without it. I’ve so many new friends and it’s nice to know that you are helping older people who don’t have anyone to talk to unless they come into the tea room. It’s so nice to be needed.”
Shirley was featured on Good Morning Britain with our ambassador, Wayne Sleep
. Find out more about volunteering to make a difference in your community
or get support near you
"My faith in humanity has been restored.”
Meet Carol from South Yorkshire who receives support from her local Good Neighbours companionship service. She tells us why the Winter months can be hard and why her volunteer brightens her day.
“I have had help from Royal Voluntary Service for over a year now and it has made an immense difference to my life. I had asked for help from other organisations and was either told that the services had stopped or received no reply. For an older person who lives alone and with illness, this was really not good.
“Just by chance, I came across my local services details and left a message. Much to my surprise, I got a call back very soon after from a very special, lovely bubbly lady who took my details and explained about what the organisation did.
“The same lady became a huge support to me by visiting once a week and helping me by becoming my friend, advising me and helping me with my weekly shop. I really look forward to her visists which always brighten me up. My volunteer is very caring, understanding, chatty and fun; a lifeline to someone who does not always see a lot of other people.
“The service is excellent and I would be lost without it. It means a great deal to me and lots of others. I would definitely recommend it to others.
“In the Winter months, I get more depressed and my pain increases with the cold, wet climate, as it does for many people. I find December particularly depressing when it’s dark at 4pm. One feels more isolated and alone.
“People are busy with family plans or preparations and have less time to chat. It seems rubbish if you are on your own at Christmas; even the TV adverts have people gathered together or around a large table. People rush in from the cold so you see even less of others than normal. Getting around is also more difficult.
“I think if you’re on your own you are more vulnerable and feel less safe in a lot of situations today and even more so in Winter months when there are fewer people about. The evenings and nights seem darker somehow.
“The best thing about my volunteer and local service is that you have that friendship, support and kindness. It makes you feel more included in society. My faith in humanity has been restored.”
Royal Voluntary Service is part of the Met Office’s Get ready for Winter campaign. Read volunteer David's blog about what we can do to make winter a less lonely time for older people. Our network of volunteers help vulnerable older people like Carol to stay independent and connected throughout the year.
“Joe spent Christmas with us; he’s like one of the family now”
After recovering from a heart attack, Ian was ready to go home but his wife doesn’t drive and he wasn’t well enough to use public transport. He arranged a lift with the Royal Voluntary Service and got chatting to the volunteer driver from our transport scheme in Fife, one of many services across Great Britain which has benefitted from funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
“I remember talking to the driver and thinking it must be nice to volunteer if you have time. I thought about it a bit more and then gave my local office a ring. I went down and had a chat; I went through all of the checks and then I started volunteering as part of the transport service. I signed up to be a driver. I’ve been a volunteer at Central and West Fife Transport Service for nearly three years now.”
The number of hours Ian spends volunteering vary from week to week, he often drives people to the shops, to hospital appointments or sometimes just to help them get out and above.
“The people I drive know me; I’ve built a relationship with them and sometimes they can be reluctant about meeting new people. I recently went to visit my Mum in Worcestershire for a week and the office had to arrange cover for me. I felt bad that I was letting people down and missing my regular shifts.”
One of Ian’s regulars is Joe Reid, a 73-year-old who started using the transport service nearly a year ago. Ian spends a couple of hours every week with Joe and the schedule rarely varies.
“Ian picks me up at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon. We do my errands and then we go to the supermarket to do my weekly shop. My mobility isn’t good and Ian gets the electric trolley for me and helps me put all the shopping in. He knows what I want and always asks me for a list but I never bother. He keeps me right.”
Ian and Joe have become firm friends over the past year, and knowing that Joe would be on his own over Christmas, Ian invited him to sample some of his cooking.
“I really enjoy Joe’s company. He came and spent Christmas with us; he’s like one of the family now. He had a snooze in the armchair!”
Volunteering has made a big difference to Ian’s life.
“I have a deeper appreciation of older people and their problems now. It’s difficult for people to get from A to B, especially if they’re like Joe and have mobility problems or they live in a rural area. It’s really important to offer a service like the transport service.
“Volunteering has definitely made my life more interesting too I feel quite privileged that I am trusted to help, I think the Royal Voluntary Service badge shows that I’m trusted and respected and I get a lot of satisfaction from that.”
“Knowing that Ian is coming over puts my mind at ease. I know that he’ll help me and make sure I do everything I need to do. Before when I used to ask a neighbour, I was always wondering if they’d have time but I know now that Ian will keep me right.”
Find out more about volunteering in your area or make a donation to beat loneliness in older people.
"There is no downside to volunteering"
Meet Becky, who volunteers in our Good Neighbours scheme in Huddersfield. She’s been a player of the People’s Postcode Lottery for around 18 months.
Find out more about People’s Postcode Lottery
Becky Black visits Ralph every Friday and they go out for coffee or go for a short stroll in the local park.
“I’m volunteer for the Good Neighbours service in Huddersfield. I see Ralph, who’s 93, for about an hour and a half every Friday. If he’s feeling reasonably fit, we go for a walk in a local park or go to a café for a coffee. There is a reservoir near him which is very pretty so sometimes we go and sit and look at the view.
“After retiring, I decided that I had more time and as I don’t have any family nearby, I could spare some time for others. I’d like to think that someone would volunteer with my mum, who lives in Scotland, if she wanted someone to pop over for a chat.
“I don’t see my seeing Ralph as volunteering; he’s my friend and I enjoy spending time with him. He’s a really nice guy. It feels more like going for coffee with my friend every Friday.
“I love to hear his stories and I always tell him what I’ve been up to. It’s good to have to a face to face proper relationship and Ralph has become a good friend. He came over my house not long ago and met the whole family - my husband, three children and grandchild. It was lovely.
“There is no downside to volunteering. If Royal Voluntary Service are short of volunteers then I help with hospital visits or take people shopping. In the summer, my family spend a lot of time in France because we have a house over there, but I think Ralph understands. It’s always nice to go and see him when I get back.
“I’ve been playing the People’s Postcode Lottery for around 18 months now; I like to play because they support a good range of charities including the Royal Voluntary Service!”
Funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting our services for older people across Great Britain.
We remember them
Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at the Royal Voluntary Service Archive, tells us about her thoughts ahead of Remembrance Day.
At this time of year, we take time to remember the fallen during all conflicts. It’s a thought-provoking time to focus on resolution and be thankful for peace when it touches our lives.
My thoughts turn immediately to service men and women whose lives were so greatly affected in their dedication to protecting our country. I also think of the civilians and service people on home ground that gave their lives; many were sadly killed during wartime, including some 245 Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS) ladies who were on duty.
These inspiring women volunteered their services and were essential in keeping the home fires burning. They helped during the Blitz, oversaw the evacuation of children from cities, and ran British Restaurants and mobile canteens to feed the needy as well as many other Services between 1938 and 1945.
Members lost their lives during the War, most of whom were on duty, are remembered in the Roll of Honour which is on display in Westminster Abbey. We remember all those who died, including:
- Kathleen Pinder of the Housewives Service was killed on 13th December 1940 while on her Housewives duty in Sheffield by a heavy explosive attack on the house next door.
- Winifred Alliker who was Leader of a Sewing Party in Thurrock, Essex. She remained sewing instead of taking shelter as the work in hand was urgently needed in hospital. Her whole family was killed at the same time on 9th April 1941.
- Margaret Jackson, Catherine Little, Ada Morris, Elizabeth Gertrude Sherwood, Agnes Cooper Vernon and Jeanie Wright were all on duty as Rest Centre Workers at St Andrews Rest Centre in Bootle, Liverpool when it received a direct hit on 3rd May 1941.
- Ethel and Winifred Hayward; sisters who were killed by a direct hit on the Clothing Depot in Crayford, Dartford on 13th July 1944 while issuing clothing to Evacuees. Fortunately most of the people were waiting outside as, of those inside, only two were alive when dug out.
- Dorothy Cook, a Mobile Canteen Driver, was driving a YMCA Canteen van in the Bristol Docks area during the blackout on 9th December 1940. The vehicle fell into the water and Mrs Cook was trapped in her van and drowned. She had been driving continuously for a week through the Blitz.
- Isabella Muirhead Hunter, a First Aid Post Worker in Paisley Large Burgh, was on duty when the post was destroyed by a Parachute Mine, on 6th May 1941.
- Rose Bonsall, a Rest Centre Worker ARP Warden, died from injuries received from the explosion of a time bomb while on her way to a Rest Centre, Wrexham on 31st August 1940.
Thanks to the support of donors, we are currently digitising the reports of over a million wartime women so that all can appreciate them and find out more about this key time in history. Until our Million Women project is complete, you can find out more about our archive and you can view the full Roll of Honour online.
“I don’t know what I’d do without him”
Meet Betty, 86, who relies on Tony from our Cumbria Transport Service to help her get out and about and alleviate her isolation.
“I don’t know what I’d do without Tony. I wouldn’t be able to get out of the house. He’s absolutely wonderful; he’s always reliable and I think the service is marvellous.
“My pleasures were taken away from me when I reached old age. I used to do a lot of walking around the lakes, mountain climbing and ballroom dancing. I can’t do any of that now. I rely on Tony to get me out of the house.
“He takes me to my luncheon clubs, the community centre and to do my weekly shop. He’s available at short notice and is so reliable. Before Tony, it was terrible for me - not to be able to get out.”
At least three times a week, Tony, 60, a Royal Voluntary Service volunteer
, drives to Betty’s house and takes her to where she needs to go. If it’s a hospital or doctor’s appointment, Tony waits with her before taking her home again.
"I know all the shortest routes for my ‘customers’ and always make sure I’m on time. There’s nothing hard about volunteering; I have my regular bookings and I do the one off appointments. I enjoy it. It brings me a sense of purpose."
Tony, Royal Voluntary Service Volunteer
Thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery
Royal Voluntary Service volunteers are able to help more people like Betty across Great Britain.
Age Is Just A Number
On Older People’s Day
, we want to champion achievement as we age. Many assume that our greatest success happens in our youth but these incredible accomplishments prove that age is just a number.
J. R. R. Tolkien
published the first volume of his famous epic fantasy series, “The Lord of the Rings” when he was 62-years-old. The book is thought to be one of the best-selling novels of all time, with over 150 million copies sold worldwide. The oldest recorded author
was Louise Delany who published The Delany Sister’s Book of Everyday Wishom when she was 105-years-old in October 1994.
Youth may be associated with sport but this bucks the trend. Oscar Swahn
won Silver at the Antwerp Olympics in 1920 aged 72 for shooting. He won his first gold medal at the 1908 Olympic Games in London and collected three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in his career.
At 86, Johanna Quaas from Germany was a regular competitor in amateur gymnastics competitions in Germany when her World Record as oldest gymnast
was certified in 2012.
Graduating from university
graduated from Kyoto University of Art and Design in Japan aged 96. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in March 2016.
Lucky in love
Age is nothing when it comes to love! The oldest recorded bride
, Minnie Munro, married Dudley Reid, 83, at the age of 102-years-old at Point Clare in Australia in 1991 while Harry Stevens is recorded as the oldest bridegroom
when he married Thelma Lucas, 84, when he was aged 103 in Wisconsin, USA.