Volunteers' Week 2020
Published on 24 May 2020 06:16 PM
As it’s Volunteers' Week local lass Vicky Pattison wanted to say a specific thank you to our volunteer isolation parcel delivery drivers.
Last year, to celebrate the tremendous work that volunteers perform in the community, there were hundreds of events across the country, from award ceremonies to tea parties and barbecues.
This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, get-togethers and awards ceremonies are out of the question due to the need for social distancing. The focus therefore is on supporting volunteers to take on coronavirus-related volunteering roles to help communities cope with the many consequences of the pandemic.
At Age UK North Tyneside we thought it would be nice for you to hear, in their own words how some of our wonderful volunteers have been helping older people in the area to keep smiling. #ProudToBeAgeUK #volunteer
I began working for Age UK North Tyneside in January 2020. I became interested in volunteer work a few months after I retired. My first volunteer job was in retail. After a couple of months I decided that I could put my office and administration experience to good use and look for a volunteer job which might suit my skills.
I lived in North Shields for 25 years and was aware Age UK North Tyneside had offices in the town centre. I looked online and was lucky enough to see there was a vacancy which I believed would be suitable for my skills.
I thoroughly enjoy working at Age UK North Tyneside. All the staff have made me feel welcome and on my first day everything was in place for me. My name badge was ready, I was given a tour of the office and I was shown to a desk with a computer and given a project which I knew would last for several weeks if not months. I was very impressed with the way my first day had been organised and I felt like I was a valued member of staff.
My background, throughout my working life, has always been office based and that is something which I missed after retirement. Whilst I am putting my office and admin experience to good use I have l learned how the charity works and how it helps the older and more vulnerable people in our community. I have also learned about the amount of activities which are offered and how popular some of those activities are to the customers. Yes, I am included in communication which I greatly appreciate. Communication is key to the smooth running of any organisation.
The office is large and airy to accommodate the amount of staff and also customers. There is a friendly atmosphere in the office and all staff appear to be well trained individuals who are committed to the work and the charity.
Support has been offered and I know it is available should I require it.
I certainly would recommend Age UK North Tyneside to anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer. There are many roles in which a volunteer could be involved with the charity from practical help to office administration. Volunteering is very rewarding not only to the charity and the customers who use the service but also to the individual, who may be someone wishing to start a career in the health sector or a charity or recently retired, has a skill and is willing to give up a little time to assist other people. A little time spent with customers can mean so much more to them if they are lonely, want to learn a new skill or just a chat.
At present with lockdown I cannot homework as a volunteer, so I am doing other volunteering in the area I live within the community.
To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day we and our neighbours decorated our houses for a socially distanced celebration.
Everyone contributed to the decorating and organising of the celebration and it was great for our older neighbours who are not able to get out so much at present due to lockdown restrictions.
I downloaded music from during the war years which we played all afternoon and my husband sang a few songs popular at the time with everyone joining in.
It was a great afternoon for all.
Yes, I would recommend Age UK North Tyneside for volunteering...not forgetting North Tyneside Carers' Centre as well of course, as both have given, and still do, provide a sense of wellbeing. In the case of Age UK North Tyneside they can match you up to your requirements and encourage you to do that little bit extra.
Allan H's Story
Allan Hudson is a former miner who spent 35 years in the pit and walked on burning coals, at the Newcastle Firewalk to thank the charity that helped him get through the grief of losing his wife. Allan from Walkerville, Newcastle, has volunteered for Age UK North Tyneside at their Cedar Grove Wellbeing Centre in Wallsend for almost three years.
He became involved with the charity because he wanted something to occupy him after the death of his wife of 50 years, Brenda, in 2014, and to help make ‘a bit of a difference.’
Allan, 77, said: “When my wife passed away I was left with an emptiness. I needed something to do, to give back, to help those not as active as I am able to be. This experience has allowed me to appreciate and understand elderly people and also understand those with dementia and disability. I love my time with all the customers – every day is different and I enjoy the challenge it brings. The Fire Walk was another challenge. It is another way to give back through raising funds that will go towards the older people I help to look after.”
Allan previously worked two shifts a day to support his family, spending seven hours a day at the pit at Cotgrave Colliery, before heading off to work on a nearby farm.
Shortly after Brenda died he began volunteering at Cedar Grove, where he gives between 35 and 40 hours a week to support and entertain older people, as well as doing odd jobs around the building.
Alan is an inspiration to us all and a great ambassador for the value and benefit of volunteering for both himself and those he gives time to support.
He is one of a number of volunteers who work with Age UK North Tyneside, committed to ending loneliness for the 14,000 lonely, older people living in the borough.
Why did you volunteer?
To regain a sense of self-worth after my stroke. I get a lot out of work and can have a conversation with a lot of staff. I love the routine of going to work.
What enjoyment do you get?
The girls I work for in the office are lovely it’s like being part of a team again.
Have you learnt any new skills?
I refreshed the ones I thought I would never use again including self- confidence.
What is the environment like that you volunteer in?
It’s nice and quiet not overwhelming.
Do you have any support when or if needed?
Yes, there is always someone to ask if I am stuck and need advice or more tasks.
Would you recommend volunteering for AgeUK North Tyneside?
Definitely yes they are a lovely friendly bunch.
Allan K's Story
Allan Keddy, age 60 began volunteering with us following a personal journey which led him to Age UK North Tyneside and EveryDay Care originally as a customer.
Allan was born in North Shields but moved around the country for his varied career in the car industry where he managed vehicle manufacturing plants, new vehicle introduction, tooling and production. This led him to many parts of the world including most of Europe, the USA and Middle East where he was fortunate to sample various cultures and meet some interesting people.
Allan returned to the NE after 30 years following a diagnosis of dementia for his wife Mary. They had lived a rural existence where they’d been extremely active in the community and specifically a local children’s football club where he was Chair and she was Treasurer. Due to her Alzheimers diagnosis Mary was unable to work from the age of 47.
When Mary passed away in 2019 at the age of 57 she had been a regular visitor to both Cedar Grove and Linskill Park Wellbeing Centres. Allan was well known to the teams as he dropped off and collected Mary three times each week for her visits.
When Allan’s Mum also passed away four weeks later he found himself with an abundance of time on his hands. Their three grown up children had remained in the south of the country so Allan found he needed a new routine and purpose. Unfortunately after a spell in hospital with a gall bladder issue it became apparent that he needed to take better care of his own wellbeing too.
Although Allan had no formal care training he’d been supporting both Mary and his mum for many years so decided to take up a qualification in Health and Social care and dementia. He decided to approach the wellbeing centre manager as a volunteer once he’d embarked on his qualification to obtain more formal experience. At about the same time a role became available as a centre driver and Allan seized the opportunity. He said that all of a sudden he “had reason to get up in the morning again” and that “routine felt good”
As part of Volunteer Week we asked Allan a few questions about his volunteering experience with us.
What enjoyment do you get from your role?
For me it’s meeting different people and forming relationships and friendships with them, you can only do this when you choose to get involved. For instance I love to recycle and help people create regardless of their situation, diagnosis or condition. I share my hobby of using old materials for new purposes with the centre’s wellbeing customers.
Have you learned any new skills?
I was for ten years plus a ‘vocational carer’ it wasn’t a career choice for me. In my career however I learned to communicate with others from varied cultures and backgrounds- to get a job done. I’ve since learned new communication skills for older people with limitations. Even though I have a coaching qualification for training visually impaired people, they were young and fit. Exposure to a variety of people in different situations and scenarios is how you immerse yourself and learn new skills. .
What is the environment like that you volunteer in?
My GP originally questioned my thinking about volunteering in the environment where Mary, my wife had spent so much time. Plus there was I an engineer by trade! But you see such a variety of people in that environment. They may have multiple or life limiting conditions but I don’t view people with a condition as different. I treat the customers as indiviudals and not as a stereotype.
I sometimes notice the memories there in Linskill but that’s not a bad thing.
Do you have any support when or if needed?
It’s there all of the time. The only dumb question in life is the one you never ask. Most people in life like to be asked for their support and input.
What do you get up to in your actual volunteer role?
I make things and encourage the customers to get involved, we’re very fond of gardening, working with timber and other crafting materials to turn old into re-purposed. I’m a canny handy person for little jobs around the centre. A volunteer probably doesn’t fully appreciate the impact they have on people. I’m thinking specifically about a gentleman customer who I now take out and about who had a career in the merchant navy, we spend time at the shipyards and the coast looking at vessels and his family are greatly appreciative of the interaction and time we spend together as I’m sure he is.
Would you recommend volunteering?
Yes, it might be Age UK North Tyneside or any other charity or just offering to do something for others. You have to be responsible and not negate that responsibility just because you are a volunteer. Anything that gets you out and gets you meeting people and talking to people rather than just via social media is a positive, touching other cultures and generations helps with your personal understanding.
Don’t go into this expecting a reward, that’s not the right reason for volunteering it will pay dividend in it’s own way.
Dorothy volunteers within our Dementia Connections team in North Tyneside offering support and advice to those living with dementia.
Why did you become a volunteer?
To have a reason to get out of the house and be involved with other people. Disability means I can't work many hours or on a formal basis.
What enjoyment do you get from it?
Being part of a team and having a role in it. Responsibility but no stress!
Do you enjoy volunteering alongside the team?
Very much so. Their earthy humour is great fun. No bodily function is out of bounds! They are the most caring and kind people.
What is the environment like that you work in?
A bit crowded and, at times, messy (sorry team!) but the office is clean, light and airy. Easy access and parking. Everybody in the building is helpful and friendly. There is usually an edible treat on the go too!
Do you receive the support you need and would you recommend volunteering for Age UK North Tyneside?
Yes and yes. It has been a mutually supportive environment with both formal guidelines and helpful people. It gives me the opportunity to be involved with something I am interested in but know little about. And especially importantly at this strange time, my tiny contribution helps the helpers help.