Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.
Meet Katie who visits Pamela, 84, who likes budgies and penguins - so much so that Katie rang up British Gas and persuaded them to send her a big cuddly penguin, like the one on their adverts. Mrs Vickers named him Maurice.
“I see Pam every Thursday after I’ve dropped my daughter to school. We have a chat and maybe watch some TV together. Pam loves her penguin, and he now sits with her watching the TV. I like to take her chocolates and bottles of wine at Christmas. I like to make her smile.
"It’s fantastic having the Royal Voluntary Service. They’re all
marvellous; they’re friends to me now. Katie always helps and cheers me
Find out more about volunteering
“I post Pam’s letters and take her some shopping but she doesn’t need me to do that much for her. She’s a very clever lady, she does the Sunday Express crossword every week and says: ‘I know I’ll win one day.’
“I get a sense of achievement from volunteering, I know I make a difference to her life and she makes a difference to mine too, we’re good friends.”
Pam lives on her own and has no relatives in the UK; she has mobility difficulties and recently hurt her back so has to use a stick in the house. Her neighbours help her by doing her shopping, and Bridget from the Bromley Transport Service takes her out to the hospital or wherever she needs to go. She started using the Royal Voluntary Service shortly before her husband died to visit him at the home where he lived and she has been using the service ever since.
“Ian went into hospital on my 80th birthday and never came out again. He was diagnosed with dementia and he went into a Home; he died two years ago this April and I’ve been on my own since then. Cheryl and Bridget from Royal Voluntary Service came to Ian’s memorial service with me just to lend their support and give me a hand to hold."
Huge thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery
who are helping to fund our Good Neighbours
schemes and social activities
where older people can get together across Great Britain
Have a look at some of the other blogs and find out more about our inspiring volunteers:
Find out more about volunteering or get support near you.
Kate Bull, Executive Director of Retail for Royal Voluntary Service talks about Healthy Choices, a national programme to support NHS workforce health.
Hospitals aren’t always great places to be healthy, with a lack of nutritious food and drink choices for NHS staff and visitors. We asked 250 doctors and nurses about their eating habits on duty. Many turn to quick snacks and sugar fixes to see them through long shifts.
- Most skip meals (80%) and snack (76%), eating just 1 or 2 meals a day.
- Over 1 in 5 (22%) said their diet has worsened in the last year, blaming a lack of healthy options (52%).
- Over ¾ (78%) want healthier options in hospitals.
- 62% believe these would have a positive effect on their overall diet.
You might be surprised to know that we’re Britain’s biggest hospital retailer, running 440 cafés, shops and trolley services in the country. Our proceeds support our work helping older people in the community, with £45 million raised in 2013-14.
Find out about our hospital shops and cafés
As a key NHS partner, we’re taking an early lead on Sir Bruce Keogh’s agenda for NHS workers to lead by example with healthy eating by transforming our hospital shops and cafés. We’ll have a new menu with healthy fruit and nut snacks, soups, freshly prepared salads, sandwiches and stews. You’ll see fewer crisps, confectionery and sugary drinks too.
Hospital staff and visitors will have their pick of delicious, freshly prepared, healthy and nutritious meals and snacks when they need them. So whether you’re dropping in for a smoothie or picking up essentials, you can enjoy feel-good food that supports older people in your local community.
Our first new-look café at Royal Bournemouth Hospital has been very popular and our first new-look store opens at Western General Hospital, Edinburgh soon. Keep an eye out in hospitals near you as we roll out our new menu and look across the country.
We rely on 13,000 trained, caring volunteers and staff to run our retail sites. They not only prepare and serve food and drinks, but provide support and advice to patients and visitors about services available to older people. Healthy food campaigner Jamie Oliver has already shown his support too as well as Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive and Maureen Watt, Scotland’s Public Health Minister.
Royal Voluntary Service hospital retail services have always been important places for comfort, support and advice for older people and their carers. Healthy Choices continues that tradition while helping NHS workers eat better.
Find out about how to join our team of volunteers
and how to get help
in your local area.