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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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“Without her, I’d be lonely”

VeraMeet 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”

Vera and Louise

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.

Posted by Louise at 00:00 Monday, 12 June 2017.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, Volunteering

"Royal Voluntary Service has provided me with a social life"

Tom works on a projectTom is 98 and has been a regular at the workshop ever since it started. Tom used to work on a farm and as a gardener and driver. He retired at the age of 85, after many fruitful years of work. Tom says the workshop has been a central part of his life.

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“I’m the last person remaining from my generation so I don’t have many friends left. Royal Voluntary Service’s Social Centre has provided me with a social life since it began, and now the workshop has given me more friends.”

Tom likes getting involved with woodwork and he’s made bird tables, bird boxes and planters. Sometimes the men make craft items so he’s done some painting too.

“I like doing things, I’m very handy so the workshop keeps me active and using my skills. I also get to meet friends and have some company as I don’t get much at home.”

“You can’t go wrong; everyone is happy. I tell everyone about the workshop, and I get people to buy our items too.”

Thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery are helping us to provide places where older people can get together across Great Britain. Sheds are a brilliant way to bring people together and reduce social isolation; they were founded by men and some sheds welcome all members of the community, regardless of gender. Find local services near you or volunteer to support older people in your area.

Posted by Tom at 00:00 Monday, 15 May 2017.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, Volunteering

“We enjoy each other’s company.”

Gordon and ElaineMeet Elaine who regularly visits four older people as part of the Royal Voluntary Service East Cheshire Service. One of the people she supports is Gordon, who is 94 and lives in the countryside.


Gordon says: “It’s quite rural where I live and, because I don’t have a car and can’t walk very far, it can be quite lonely. Elaine comes to see me every week and we usually go to a luncheon club in Handforth Dean or sometimes we stay more local. It depends on how the mood takes us. I seldom chat to people so it’s great to see Elaine and the others at the club.”

Gordon has a daughter who does his shopping and visits him but he doesn’t really see anyone else. He spends his time relaxing and watching TV. Before retiring, Gordon was an Electronics Engineer on ships and spent a lot of his time travelling the world, leading a team of twenty men. He and Elaine like to chat about his work and they like getting out and about as well as meeting the other regular diners at the luncheon club.

Gordon and Elaine

Elaine adds: “I really look forward to spending time with Gordon. We enjoy each other’s company.

“I do a lot of volunteering; I love it. I think it is very important to give something back. Time is one thing that can’t be bought; giving time is important, especially if you can help someone who is housebound and lonely.”

We’d like to thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery who are helping older people across Great Britain through the funds that they raise for Royal Voluntary Service. Get support for an older person through a local service or join our team of volunteers making a difference every day.

Posted by Elaine at 00:00 Monday, 10 April 2017.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, Volunteering

“David has lifted my depression"

Heulwen and DavidMeet 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 and Heulwen

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.

Posted by at 00:00 Monday, 13 February 2017.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, Volunteering

“Joe spent Christmas with us; he’s like one of the family now”

Joe with Volunteer, IanAfter 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.”

Joe adds:

“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.

Posted by Ian at 00:00 Tuesday, 06 December 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, Volunteering

“I don’t know what I’d do without him”

Betty and TonyMeet 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.”

Betty and Tony

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.

Posted by Betty at 00:00 Wednesday, 26 October 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, volunteering

"I Like to Put a Smile on People's Faces!"

Meet Man speaks to womenRichard, who volunteers with his wife in our café in Harrogate District Hospital. He’s been a player of the People’s Postcode Lottery for two years.

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“I love volunteering! I love being able to help people; everyone is an individual and they each have their own story. The hospital staff are like family to us now and we have regular customers come in who come to see us for a chat.

“It’s never nice being in a hospital; it’s an anxious environment. People have concerns about themselves and their relations so I like to help people by chatting to them and trying to put a smile on their face.

“If I see someone sat in the corner of the café looking sad, I will quite often approach and see if I can have a chat with them. I ask them if they’re ok or if I can get them another cup of tea. Sometimes people just want to be left alone but sometimes chatting makes all the difference. There’s nothing like face to face communication.

“My wife and I volunteer together once a week; we make a good team. We take it in turns - every other week one of us will work the counter and serve the teas, coffees and sandwiches while the other works in the kitchen doing the washing and cooking.

“I would definitely recommend volunteering; I can choose the times to suit my schedule and it’s a fantastic way to help lots of people.

“When I clear the plates away in the café, people always say thank you and say they really appreciate the work us volunteers are doing.

Richard was pleased to hear about how players like him were also giving Royal Voluntary Service a big financial boost.

“I’ve been playing about 2 years and won a few tenners here and there. I like to play because although I like to think about winning, I know that money also goes to good causes. I know that donations from players of People’s Postcode Lottery make a big difference to people’s lives.”

Funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting our services for older people across Great Britain.

Posted by Richard, Volunteer at 00:00 Wednesday, 21 September 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, Volunteering