The value of volunteering When Staywell volunteer, Jane D’Souza, retired from being a GP in 2013, she knew she would need to do something equally useful in the community. She knew about Staywell from her professional life, but when a colleague told her how rewarding she found volunteering, she knew this was the path for her. Jane’s role involves visiting people referred to Staywell by other professionals or family members to find out what help and support they need to stay independent and happy at home. This could be anything from help with shopping, support to take part in some social activity, having a key safe fitted, or advice on benefits they may be entitled to. 'When you see the small part you’ve played in helping a vulnerable person get the support they need, it’s truly rewarding.' Training Jane’s experience as a local GP adds real value to the team, but it isn’t always necessary to have such relevant experience. Training is provided for all Staywell’s volunteers and can help towards broadening employment prospects as well as life experience. When Suniya Qureshi came to volunteer as a befriender, this was a completely new undertaking for her. A busy mum and part-time business development executive for a community driven start up, Suniya was keen to keep her Fridays free for activities she enjoyed or for her own development. Having lost her grandmother in 2011, Suniya really wanted to do something for older people, who perhaps didn’t get the same social contact her grandmother had enjoyed. 'I so miss my grandmother – her stories of her generation, her wisdom and humour. I know how much she loved having cups of tea and chatting – a simple pleasure that many older people just don’t have.' Fully aware of the negative impact isolation and loneliness can have on older people, Suniya has witnessed a dramatic transformation in the lady she visits, over little more than a couple of months. As Staywell celebrates its 70th birthday, we applaud the dedication and commitment of all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to support people in their community over seven decades. 'Many of our services wouldn’t exist without our extensive team of volunteers,’ comments Chief Executive Shane Brennan.’ Last year, we estimated the work of our volunteers was worth over £398,000. But it’s not just about the financial value of their work – we listen to our volunteers and, in turn, they help shape the services of tomorrow.' If you’re looking for something worthwhile and rewarding to do with a couple of free hours a month, or one or two days a week, then contact us – we have a wide range of volunteering opportunities available. Post-script, August 2019 This story was originally published in 2016 - Jane D'Souza still volunteers for Staywell, and last year we calculate that our volunteers contributed time worth over half a million pounds.