There are tens of thousands of volunteers giving their time to assisting Age UK’s efforts. In my role, I have the privilege of supporting volunteering across our local and national organisations, so this Volunteers’ Week I wanted to share an inside look at Age UK volunteering.
What is Volunteers’ Week?
Volunteers’ Week occurs annually on June 1-7 and is an opportunity for organisations to celebrate the contributions of volunteers. This Volunteers’ Week feels even more poignant and meaningful, however, given the demands of the past 18 months.
Staff members have worked tirelessly to support, safeguard and allocate existing volunteers in response to the changes created by the Government guidelines, while getting new volunteers trained up as quickly as possible. And through it all, our volunteers stood by us, generously offering their time and efforts for the benefit of older people across the UK.
One of the areas volunteers contribute to is our friendship services, both via telephone and in-person. These are probably the volunteering roles most associated with Age UK, with the importance of them having increased due to the shielding and social distancing measures in response to COVID-19.
Friendship services are just one of the many volunteering opportunities at Age UK, though, so this Volunteers’ Week I wanted to acknowledge some of the roles that don’t get quite as much attention. At a time when Age UK is working to invest as much time and effort as possible into delivering services for older people, administrative and support functions can become stretched.
To tackle this, Age UK volunteers can do everything from helping run social media channels, to support fundraising efforts, to operating reception desks, cooking, cleaning, gardening, and so much more. The value these roles provide is significant and allows us to widen our reach.
Then there are our brilliant charity shop volunteers. You’ll likely know that charity shops are an important source of income for charities, but you may not know how much these shops rely on the efforts of volunteers. Walk into a charity shop and you’ll find shelves that are stocked, donations being sorted, and helpful people at the till ensuring COVID-secure measures are in place.
Volunteers are a significant part of making this happen, and the people in these roles have weathered a particularly difficult year, as shops closed in accordance with Government guidelines. We’re extremely grateful to the volunteers who stood by us through such challenging and uncertain times.
Lightening the load
Locally, organisations in our network have also been preparing to launch new and revised services for older people now that lockdown guidelines are being relaxed. These include the development of digital skills, walking football groups to improve fitness and support for the wellbeing of people living with dementia. Volunteers supporting these services exhibit a genuine interest in and commitment to making their communities more age-friendly, while sharing their time and talents to help shape these services.
Want to get involved?
Despite these amazing efforts, we are still in need of additional volunteers. If any of the roles mentioned might be of interest to you, get in touch via the following link to find out if there are volunteer vacancies in your area.
Sharing our gratitude
This Volunteers’ Week, please join me in celebrating those giving time to Age UK, our partner charities and all organisations across the sector. Give them a thumbs up, say thanks or buy them a coffee or a pint, because they’re making their communities and our shared world a better place for all of us - and I think that’s worthy of our gratitude.