What we're saying

Royal Voluntary Service blog
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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“I make a huge difference with just 1 hour a week!”

BeckyMeet Becky who lives in London and helps local older people to become more active. She’s making friends, helping emergency services and empowering older people – all with just one hour a week!

“I began volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service after seeing an advert in the local paper. They were looking for volunteers for 1 hour a week to help the local ambulance service through the Active Ageing Programme. There were no strings attached; 1 hour of my week doing gentle exercises with older people in my area and I could help reduce the number of 999 call outs for the ambulance service.

“I hadn’t really thought about the kinds of people I would meet but I knew it would relieve the strain on the emergency services by reducing the number of calls they were receiving. The first person that I met was Anna, who was 96 and housebound. She was not what I was expecting! She is bubbly, chatty, full of knowledge and interesting stories from her past and really keen to be on the programme. She finds it difficult to get out and about because of physical ailments but was craving a social life outside of her home.

“I worked with Anna for six weeks to complete set a routine of gentle exercises. Anna decided to continue to the daily exercises to strengthen her muscles. She felt they could help her to become more mobile and confident when standing and walking with a goal of getting out the house and meeting others. 

“We struck up a friendship while exercising in the hour that we spent together and chatting away throughout the sessions. It was a pleasure to be able to spend time helping someone in need to become more active. It was great to be an ear to listen and to motivate and cheer someone up.

“I am so glad I made the call to volunteer. I feel I am helping the local emergency services, helping older people to be more mobile and sociable. All of this gives me a sense of pride that I am helping my community – just by giving 1 hour of my week.”

Becky volunteers with our pilot Supporting you at Home service which currently runs in Hackney and Merton in London in partnership with the London Ambulance Service. London Ambulance Service refer those who are at risk of isolation or falls and Royal Voluntary Service pair individuals with a volunteer to provide a bespoke, six week exercise program in their homes. The service aims to improve physical wellbeing, alleviate loneliness and reduce the number of 999 calls in the area.

Posted by at 00:00 Thursday, 14 June 2018.

“Activities we’ve run have pulled people out of isolation”

Valerie, an Royal Voluntary Service volunteerMeet Valerie who is giving her time, skills and knowledge to help address issues faced by older people in her neighbourhood. She lives in Boston, Lincolnshire. Valerie got involved with the Local People Project, which has been running since 2015, after attending local IT sessions.

“I heard that a computer course would be running, and as I had got a new tablet, I wanted to attend to learn more about how to use it.

“Through the lesson, I heard about the Local People project and how it was testing out ideas from local community to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst older people. The small gathering of residents, called a steering group, were working together to use funding available through the project to develop activities and events. 

“I wanted to be part of it because I wanted to help people who had an illness, or who were lonely, to get out and about. I’ve been a steering group member for two years now and I help decide and support local activities for older people, such as events, arts projects, community transport and afternoon teas. A singing group has been set up through the project and I attend this regularly – it’s had a very positive impact on me and helps me when I’m down. 

“I’ve made new friends that I wouldn’t normally have made contact with. I feel more able to go out on my own now. I’m more confident to speak up and encourage others too. I’ve noticed an increase in confidence in people at the group; I’ve made friends and have seen others do the same. Activities we’ve run have pulled people out of isolation. Our singing group has made a difference to people’s lives and the local community transport scheme, which is supported by the steering group, helps people who would struggle to leave the house without it.

“I’d encourage others to get involved. I would say that it’s definitely worthwhile, not only to the local community but also to you as a person.”

Gemma Moore is the Royal Voluntary Service community engagement worker in Boston. She finds out the most important local issues for older people, their ideas for addressing them and how they’d like to get involved. She supports residents to take their ideas forward and connect with local groups who share similar aims. A key part of Gemma’s role is to ensure that local people have control over how the project is developed and delivered. Bringing people together is a key part of the project. 

“Projects like these are very important as you enable and support the local community to not only get involved, but to have a say in what they want to deliver. Giving the local community opportunities to get together, have fun and meet new friends can have a real impact on their health, wellbeing and confidence. Many people experience loneliness and isolation; it’s great to be able to help combat this and have a real impact on people’s lives.” 

The Local People project in Boston is funded by the People's Health Trust, an independent charity addressing health inequalities across Great Britain. It makes grants using money raised by 51 society lotteries through The Health Lottery. Since 2015, Royal Voluntary Service has been working on six Local People's Projects, funded through People’s Health Trust’s Local People Programme. These projects take a neighbourhood approach, engaging with local people and enabling them to address wider issues in their communities through collective action.

Posted by at 00:00 Thursday, 31 May 2018.

Labels: volunteer