At Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR), they have seen since the Covid-19 pandemic that many older volunteers have stepped down from their positions. They are greatly missed
Mature volunteers can offer a lot to organisations; with a wealth of life experience behind them, they can build relationships with colleagues and impart their wisdom to young volunteers and staff. They also offer a tremendous range of skills that they have harnessed over their years in work and in life.
Shafiq Hussain, CEO of Voluntary Action Rotherham said: “This week I saw on the news that 100-year-old Peter Offord Davies was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for work as a reading volunteer for primary school children in Macclesfield, Cheshire. It was heart-warming to see how much the volunteering meant to Peter.
“We know volunteering can be life changing both for the volunteer and for those they are supporting. As Peter has shown, you are never too old to volunteer; so we encourage Rotherham residents to come forward; our town needs you.”
Over the past few years there have been national campaigns from the Jo Cox Commission to the NHS’s Every Mind Matters, to raise awareness of loneliness, particularly in the over 50s age group. One of the benefits of volunteering is that it can help people connect with each other and empower people with a sense of purpose, both of which can combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
VAR is leading a campaign this year to encourage older adults back into volunteering. They are working with Rotherham-based organisations to share the experiences of mature volunteers whose lives have greatly benefited from their voluntary positions.
Sue T (75) volunteers at the Friendship Call Project (Rotherfed). She said: “As a living alone, retired widow I didn’t want to be totally isolated when the pandemic began. I hoped to make a positive difference as a telephone befriender without compromising the rules in place at the time; for almost three years now I have made many interesting friendship calls, speaking to a lot of lovely people of all ages on a variety of topics.”
Christine and Ray, who volunteer for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, spoke about their experience volunteering at Bluebell Wood’s family event in December: “We used to volunteer weekly at Bluebell Wood and, after retiring, coming back to volunteer means so much to us. We just love to try and help the families.”
The Volunteer Centre at Rotherham has a range of opportunities available across the borough. Everybody has access to these opportunities through the VAR website, www.varotherham.org.uk. In addition, Volunteering and Group Support Manager Kerry McGrath is happy to discuss opportunities over the phone or in person. Call 01709 829821.