Stories from Volunteers Week 2019 - part 2 Volunteering with Staywell – purpose and friendship ‘Volunteering with Staywell has given me a real sense of purpose,’ says Lynda Barnes, who has been volunteering as a Befriender with Staywell’s telephone befriending scheme, In Touch, for over two years. ‘I enjoy giving back to the local community.’ Her role involves contacting local older folk who have been identified as isolated or lonely. Lynda comes into our head office in New Malden every Friday and calls her list of clients with great enthusiasm, taking a genuine interest in their day. Lynda recently had to take some time off due to an injury. ‘I was overwhelmed by the response of the office staff at Staywell when I returned to my role; I have made some great friends here.’ ‘As an organisation, we work hard to implement and maintain good relationships with our volunteers,’ says Ciara Starrett, Staywell’s Volunteer Coordinator, ‘We plan events to recognise and thank our volunteers, and ensure that they realise how valued they are.’ Staywell throws twice-yearly parties for its friends and supporters, where volunteers take the night off, and staff members give their time to welcome guests, serve refreshments, and clean up afterwards. Age is no barrier to volunteering with Staywell. Michael Pearson, 95, and Ena Bussy, 84, joint recipients of our own Volunteer of the Year Award 2018, have between them clocked up over 30 years of volunteer service. We can also provide work-experience volunteering for secondary school and university students. Ena has volunteered for over 20 years Michael Pearson, 95 Employment background won’t limit your opportunity to volunteer, either. We are fortunate to be supported by people with backgrounds in medicine, law, teaching and the creative arts to name a few, and have a variety of roles to suit most people. For some people, volunteering can be part of rehabilitation from mental or physical ill-health, for some, it’s a step towards improved employability, through enhancing existing skills or developing new ones, and can sometimes include accredited training that can be added to your CV. Research shows that taking part in voluntary and community activity improves people’s own social connections, sense of purpose, self-esteem and life satisfaction in later life. Where people in later life feel valued and appreciated in their formal volunteering roles, there is evidence to suggest this contributes to reduced depression. If you are interested in volunteering with us email [email protected] We are always happy to welcome new volunteers, and we recruit all year round.