2016 Helping hands.

These volunteers give their time to help the elderly.

Kate Mullen – A friend to the elderly and support for mental health

Initially I joined the be-friending service at Age UK about 10 years ago after meeting an elderly man on a coach who used to travel from Luton to Bath just to meet people. I slowly realised how many elderly lonely people there was around me so I started meeting local people on a regular basis adopted my own friends through my community over the years.

Mental health is a very important and personal topic to me, so for the last couple of years I have tried to do more to raise awareness of this incredible important over looked issue. We need to get to a point where people don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to say they aren’t feeling great and could do with a friend. I strongly believe that we need to foster a community of supporting each other.

Over the years I have accumulated a small network of people that I go and see, write or call regularly. Some of these people don’t leave the house day-to-day and I can hear the delight in their voice when I call or drop by.

Recently I have become one of L&G’s mental health first aiders so that I can better support my colleagues.

Jade Lownsborough – The SAFE Foundation - works in the developing world to increase access to basic human rights like education, safe water and healthcare

I became involved with this charity in 2011, aged 18. I had left college and couldn’t find a job, which left my self-esteem in tatters. One day a leaflet came through my door “The SAFE Foundation are looking for 10 NEET’s (not in employment, education or training) to participate in an international development project in Sierra Leone”. I went along for an interview and was selected.

My passion for the charity is ever-growing and I’ve been volunteering with them ever since. I volunteer in various locations around India, Africa and Wales and use my annual leave to do this.

Today I am a trustee of the charity. I specialise in project leadership and providing peer to peer support and training to other young people that would like to volunteer. At least once a year I will use my annual leave to attend an international development project helping small, disengaged communities get access to their basic human rights; support, aid, education and fun! Activities could include teaching, enterprise workshop, life skills workshops, construction, farming or supporting new volunteers.

This charity is a big part of my life and has changed my life. My passion to volunteer is driven by giving other local disadvantaged young people the same opportunities as I have had and being a part of helping poor communities in the developing world.

Corinne Haystead – The Children’s Trust Tadworth, Free the children, The Rainbow Trust, LAM action , Macmillan Cancer Support and Last chance animal rescue

  • I regularly donate and collect donation at the Pet shop I work at on a Saturday for Last Chance Animal Rescue.
  • For MacMillan I support and raise money by selling charity cards.
  • The Children’s Trust, I donate items that can be sold in their fetes.
  • For Free the children, Rainbow Trust and LAM action I have helped by pounding the streets and knocking on doors selling raffle tickets for their charity disco.

I talk to friends about supporting charities by donating money for sponsors. I believe that we’re all very blessed with our lives and if we can we should help support others who are less fortunate than us.

Corrine’s Colleague says: “We often get engrossed in thinking about the ‘big bang’ people create when they do charity events or sponsored activities and we miss out on when people are touching people’s lives directly and trying to make a difference in a way that doesn’t hit the headlines, even if it is as simple as giving the less fortunate something to smile about. We need people like Corinne in the world who make it part of their daily life to think of others.”

Sean Conboy – Birmingham Support Group for the homeless

2 years ago I started to notice more homeless people in Birmingham. I was told about this group of volunteers who get together every week to provide different elements of support for people who need it. They provide bedding and clothing as well as supplying hot and cold food on the night.

I became involved to try to make a positive difference in my community, groups like this are essential some warm food and drink can make a large difference. I do lots of running around behind the scenes – collecting things, buying or making things. On the night I make warm drinks for upwards of 250 people and hand out clothing or sleeping bags etc. Sometimes people really need someone to talk to and it’s important as a volunteer we are there when people need it.

One of our regular attendees, a young lad called Danny passed away last year. Since then we have set up a group to try to put people in touch with missing families. I carry a spare mobile phone with me so that anyone who wants to call a family member can do anytime they like free of charge.

We have an outreach function within our group that goes out to people who are sleeping rough and give them a few kind words and some food or bits of clothing.

A week never goes by without someone telling me that I’m the first person they have spoken to all day or that it’s the first hot drink of the day they have had..

It can be a very challenging thing to walk away each week knowing that you are going back to your warm house and job and leave a couple of hundred people to go back to their more fractured lifestyles. I always go back every week and there is usually at least one person if not more that makes me remember why I spend that 1 night a week volunteering.

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