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Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.
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Meet Vera and Louise who have been brought together by volunteering. Vera, 89, has been a widow for a long time but after her husband died, her son stayed with her during the week, commuting back to his family Devon at the weekends. Sadly, he died very suddenly two years ago and Vera was on her own. The rest of her family live in Plymouth and although they keep in touch by phone, they live too far away to see her that often. Vera’s mobility is restricted so she moved into a residential home.
Louise, a former social worker, visits Vera in the home and Vera says they get on very well together:
“Louise is so happy, she comes in, pulls up her chair and we talk about anything and everything and put the world to rights. She’s so bright and breezy, I never see her looking miserable! It means I’ve got something to look forward to on a Friday afternoon, otherwise I’d be by myself. I don’t need a carer, I have someone to do the housework and all my meals are provided. Louise is company - I miss people and without her, I’d be lonely.”
Louise has noticed a big change in Vera in the last few months:
“Vera was very quiet when I started visiting her. She was a bit depressed and felt isolated. I come and have a chat and keep her company. It’s more than a social occasion - you build up a relationship with the people you visit”
Louise has volunteered for several organisations but, as a trained social worker, wanted to be able to use her skills with people on an individual basis so she got in touch with Royal Voluntary Service.
“I do it because I love it. I get satisfaction from knowing that I’ve made someone happy. I see it as a two-way thing – I give Vera a bit of company and myself something to do too. It keeps us both happy!”
A huge thank you to players of People’s Postcode Lottery
who support our Good Neighbours
schemes across the country. Volunteer
to help isolated older people near you or get support
in your local area.
In the second in our Volunteers Week blog series, we’ve travelled to Port Talbot to introduce you to Sheila and Ann. They volunteer at Neath Port Talbot Hospital; you’ll see them in the Royal Voluntary Service shops and on the trolley round.
Find volunteering opportunities
“I’ve been volunteering for two years and it’s given me lots of confidence as I get to meet a lot of new people.
“I help people to selects gifts in the shop as well as making sure we have enough stock on the shelves and assisting with paperwork in the office. I also help with the trolley round that visits the wards.
“I volunteer three days a week and like to get out and about to sell drinks and sweets to staff and patients. I really like to talk to patients as they might not have any visitors.
“Volunteering has definitely helped to grow my confidence; I feel needed. There is a social side too; volunteers and staff go out together at Christmas and have a good time. I’d recommend it to others.
“My Service Manager, who runs three shops, says that we are priceless. Volunteering has given me a purpose.”
“I’ve been volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service for 5 years. I work in the shop and run a trolley service around the wards of the hospital. I help customers with presents and sell lottery tickets, drinks and refreshments across three shops in the hospital.
“I was inspired to volunteers when my husband passed away. As a widow, life was lonely. I had previously worked in the public sector and I missed communicating with people. Volunteering has helped me to feel less isolated.
“I volunteer three days a week and take the trolley shop to the wards so that staff and patients can stock up on their favourite drinks and snacks. It’s nice to go to them as many patients don’t have regular visitors. I like working with volunteers from all walks of life and meeting new people.
“Volunteering enriches life and helps others who are less fortunate than me. I hope that when I volunteer, it makes an impression on people and inspires them to volunteer too.”
Royal Voluntary Service has over 440 hospital shops and cafés
all over Great Britain which serve patients, visitors and staff with a smile. Any profit goes back into providing services to older people in the community. Find out more about volunteering or support for older people near you.
As part of our series of blogs celebrating Volunteers Week, meet Heather who works as a hospital shop volunteer and Volunteer Manager at Seacroft Hospital, Wharfedale Hospital and St James Hospital in Leeds.
“I’ve been volunteering in the shop for about a year and have been running the shop sites for three hospitals in Leeds for two years. I recruit, train and manage volunteers for all of the shops and make sure that great service is delivered every time.
“I was inspired to start volunteering after using the Royal Voluntary Service café at Seacroft Hospital as a patient for some time. I always got great service; the volunteers were really friendly and looked like they were having fun whilst doing it.
“I love the variety that comes with working in three different hospitals. I love recruiting and training new volunteers and seeing them enjoy their volunteering like I do. I also enjoy serving my customers in the shop, café or on the trolley on the wards. I work with some fantastic people and we make a difference to the people in the hospitals at difficult times.
“I’d recommend volunteering in a Royal Voluntary Service hospital shop or café to others because it’s a way of offering a fantastic service and experience to patients, visitors and staff. People tell me that it’s great to have somewhere friendly and comfortable to go while waiting for appointments which makes the job worthwhile.
“I enjoy serving my customers in the shop, café or on the trolley on the wards. I work with some fantastic people and we make a difference to the people in the hospitals at difficult times. Next week I am going to a Garden Party with Queen in my role as a volunteer. I am so excited!”
Royal Voluntary Service runs a host of shops and cafés in hospitals as well as community projects all over Great Britain. Find out about volunteering opportunities in your area or get support for a loved one.
Volunteering. It’s in our name and has been part of the organisation since its conception nearly 80 years ago. Today, at the start of Volunteers Week, Royal Voluntary Service has around 35,000 volunteers who support older people around Great Britain. I want to say a personal thank you to each and every one of you.
I see the incredible impact that you make on your communities and the country as a whole. You work tirelessly to make a difference to those around you and you make a difference to thousands of lives every day. I’m heartened to hear the sentiments of those who are supported by you and the thanks passed on from family members who care so deeply and hugely appreciate the time you spend with their loved ones.
I want to take this opportunity to express my thanks to all of our volunteers. Some have provided support for decades while others have been welcomed into our ranks in recent weeks. Whether you’re just starting out on your volunteering journey or you have many years of service to look back on, we appreciate your support.
Volunteers Week runs 1 – 7 June that celebrates the difference that volunteers make every day. Find out how to join our Royal Voluntary Service volunteers or see how to get support near you.
It’s Volunteers Week and we’re celebrating with tea parties and events all over the country. To kick start the week, meet Avril who lives in Haddington and volunteers for the Good Neighbours service in East Lothian, Scotland.
“I’ve been volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service for two years and am a companion for two older ladies who live near me as well as helping out with transport to help get people out and about.
“I visit both ladies every week for a chat; we get on so well. One lady is virtually housebound so my visits are particularly important for her. I go out with the other lady, who is more mobile, and we go to the shops together occasionally.
“Volunteering as a befriender makes a big difference to the local community as it helps to reduce isolation and gives people something to look forward to; I see the benefits of my visits and enjoy it immensely.
“Helping others with transport means that they can attend doctors’ appointments and take part in social activities, which they might not be able to access on their own.
“I benefit greatly from volunteering; I feel that I add something to the community and help those who are not as able as myself. It gives me a lovely sense of fulfilment.
One of the ladies that Avril visits said “Befriending alleviates loneliness; I’m grateful for the visits. They allow me to share my points of view with Avril, which is very stimulating.
“Before Avril’s visits, I was in complete isolation for over ten months – a very long time. Although I have a lady who helps with cleaning and my son who does my weekly shopping, they don’t have time to spend chatting.
“Avril’s visits gives me companionship after being so isolated. It’s such a good service.”
is an annual event which celebrates the difference volunteers make to every community across the country. Royal Voluntary Service provides support to older people across Great Britain through a network of volunteers like Avril. Find out how to volunteer near you
or get local support for an older person