Hampshire-based charity, Brendoncare Clubs, is looking for volunteers to help them make a difference to the lives of older people in the community.
Brendoncare Clubs aim to bring joy and friendship to 1,500 older people through its network of over 90 clubs across Hampshire and Dorset, thus preventing loneliness and isolation. The clubs have been temporarily closed since March 2020 and with many members living alone, Brendoncare has been helping to maintain the positive connections and friendships they enjoy through their regular clubs. Volunteers have made over 13,000 contacts to members, as part of the community support service. There have also been 238 virtual club meetings and 59 digital connection sessions.
The community support service has received such positive feedback from members that it will be a permanent part of the Brendoncare Clubs’ service. This means that when the clubs re-open and some members feel unable to visit, or they need extra support from time to time, Brendoncare will be there for them. Demand for basic digital skills has also increased, and Brendoncare will continue to offer the friendship support to get members and volunteers connected if they want to be. But to continue the service, more volunteers are needed.
Christine Walker, 76, a Brendoncare Clubs volunteer, lives in Winchester and discovered volunteering after she retired from a career in teaching, latterly as an Assistant Head Teacher. After several years of volunteering in information and advice roles, Christine joined Brendoncare in 2019, where she uses her skills and experience, to inform Club members about benefits and Brendoncare’s Access Fund. The Fund offers financial help to enable those on low incomes to attend Clubs. This has given Christine ‘an enormous amount of personal satisfaction’.
When the pandemic started in March last year, and with all Clubs temporarily suspended, Christine turned her hand to telephone support, joining a team of volunteers keeping in regular contact with members at home.
Each week Christine calls several members who live alone. She said:
The telephone support service is a very good way of interacting with people. It’s become a two-way thing. We’ve been on the end of the phone for each other all these months. Checking people are OK is really satisfying.
Brendoncare has a very good, personal way of supporting volunteers. As well as regular catch ups over the phone, they send little pick-me-ups in the post, including regular newsletters. The ladies I support receive these too and we love discussing the puzzles and word searches together.
I would definitely recommend volunteering to anyone who enjoys talking to others and who has a bit of time to spare. You get so much satisfaction from helping people.
Nancy, 82, a Club member is grateful to receive a weekly phone call from Christine while her Club is closed. She lives alone and says that without these contacts, she would sometimes go all week without talking to anyone. She describes Christine is a ‘lifesaver’ and added,
“We get on amazing considering we’ve never met. We have a little chat and she gets me motivated, she is a sweetheart. I can talk to Christine about my worries and it is very kind of her to listen. The calls are something for me to look forward to every week.”
Sam Agnew, Head of Brendoncare Clubs, said:
I am really pleased that the community support service will be continuing, as we have had such positive feedback from members. I cannot thank our current volunteers enough, they have done such a sterling job in keeping everyone connected during the past 10 months. We look forward to welcoming more volunteers so we can continue and expand our service.
Over two million older people in the United Kingdom say they always or often feel lonely, which has an effect on their well-being. Brendoncare Clubs provide a real alternative to loneliness and social isolation for older people across Hampshire and Dorset.
Photo: Brendoncare Clubs Volunteer, Christine Walker.