Meet the Volunteers: Jazmin

If you were at our Launch Event on 15th July you may have met one of our newest volunteers, Jazmin, handing out much appreciated Pimm’s to the walkers, cyclists and kayakers as they arrived at the event. She’s going to be helping us out with fundraising and other things, alongside her full time job.  At just 26, Jazmin is a real spring chicken in our volunteer team, so when I met her I was really interested to find out what appealed to her about volunteering with us.  When she told me her story, I asked her to write it up so that we could share it with others who might have had similar experiences – she’s certainly not the first volunteer we’ve met who has wished they’d known about us sooner!!

jazmin smith

It all started on a double decker bus. As I sat on one of the familiar striped chairs I noticed her. Dark tired skin and long dark hair with silver highlights. It looked like it hadn’t seen a hair brush in a while but she did a brilliant job with her fingers. Every now and then a delicate plait would emerge.

As we made eye contact I said hello (I have always been a chatter box). We got talking. Sadly, I discovered she had had a hard life. She told me that she now lived alone in a meadow and that her children did not want anything to do with her. She told me she was scared and alone.

I felt for her right down to my soul.

She held my hand in hers. I still remember her papery thin hands, her nails dark from picking flowers in her meadow (or so she told me). She told me I was her angel.

At this point I wanted to do all I could for this woman. I wanted to change her life. In that split-second I envisioned re-homing her, talking with her family, mediating them back together and having the pleasure of watching her flourish back into the lady I had heard all about, through her memories.

Without a doubt in my mind I got my phone out and gave her my mobile number. I told her that I was always there to talk and I would help her in any way I could.

Cut to a week or so later. It’s 3am and I am in bed. My phone rings and I immediately answer. The person on the other end of the line is not making much sense and I don’t recognise their voice. I check the number and realise it is not a family member or friend and come to the conclusion that I am probably being prank called.

This happens nightly for the following week. The same soul crushing incoherent screams echoing down the phone. At the mention of her meadow it clicked. This was the lonely lady from the bus.

I asked her to meet me but she wasn’t able to listen to me long enough to hold a proper conversation. After about a week or so I think she grew frustrated with me. I couldn’t understand her screams and I had no idea what to do to help her. I hated that all I could do was add to her obvious pain and frustration.

Now throw yourself spinning, cartwheeling into the future. 10 years into the future to be exact.

I’m sat with the Chloe, the Manager of Volunteering in Health. We have met to discuss how I could help with their charity. Chloe asked why I wanted to volunteer: was it to learn new skills, to meet like-minded people or had I been affected by something myself?

I told her the truth. It was for all of the above but mainly because I like to help others. For some reason, the lady on the bus came to my mind. I told Chloe about her. As I told her about how awful it felt not to be able to help, Chloe sympathetically nodded her head and said:

“Imagine if you had known about us, you could have given her our details. We would have been able to connect her to our network of staff and volunteers that would have been able to offer her the support she so desperately needed. It wouldn’t all have been on your shoulders.”

My mind was blown. Something so simple could have changed everything for this lady. This was when it hit me. I had to help this charity. Chloe and I discussed some of the many people they have managed to help and I felt a warmth surge through me.

I am now volunteering with the wonderful team at ‘Volunteering in Health’ to help them continue to make such a massive difference to people lives.

If you know someone that could benefit from our services, or if you would like to find out more about volunteering, please contact a member of the team on 01626 771695.

 

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Annual General Meeting

Our next Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 14th September from 2pm-4pm at Bitton House in Teignmouth.

Clients, volunteers, partners, referrers and the general public are all welcome to come and find out what we’ve been up to over the last week, and – more importantly – our plans for the coming year.

Light refreshments will be provided so RSVP to 01626 771695 or info@volunteeringinhealth.co.uk to let us know if you are planning to come.

Grand Opening!

To officially launch the Coastal Information Centre, our team decided they would show their dedication to a healthy lifestyle by travelling from different places in the not so local community and coming together at Teignmouth Hospital. When our sweaty teams returned they were greeted by a tempting cream tea and the head shaving of Werner Coetzee, Social Care Manager, and Richard Baker, Community Services Manager.

launch poster

When the last of our teams streamed in, the Mayors of Teignmouth and Dawlish cut the ribbon to pronounce the centre open. The hub was buzzing with life and was packed with stands from local businesses and charities giving out information on how they help our community.

We run this hub alongside our normal services meaning we can help support more people in our community; it is designed to be an open space for anyone to come and gain more information on any services for them or a loved one.

Our teams managed to walk, run, cycle and kayak roughly 50 km (31 miles) between them, all this raised over £600, but most importantly raised much needed support and awareness.

Thank you to everyone who took part, helped out on the day, donated raffle prizes, bought raffle tickets, ran a stall on the day.  It was a really fantastic event with an impressive turnout.  Thank you!

 

 

Make it Thursdays

This project is part of the TAAG (Teignmouth Arts Action Group) Community Outreach Programme. It consists of arts based sessions for people with current or recent caring responsibilities, and also people at risk of social isolation. Sessions are led by volunteer tutors who share and develop skills with participants. There are over 1800 Carers in Teignmouth (source: 2011 census).  There is evidence to suggest that whilst caring for someone has many positive aspects, Carers can also experience poor health, stress, isolation, and loss of social interaction. So to be effective, Carers need to take care of themselves as well.  Make It Thursdays enables Carers to come together, share experiences and take a break to explore their own talents and creativity.

In Spring 2016, a group of Carers, identified by Volunteering in Health and a TAAG volunteer (who took poetry, music and art into the homes of Carers), were invited to TAAG’s workshop. Funding from Devon Community Foundation enabled artists to work with the group to create sculptures for TRAIL, (Teignmouth’s annual recycled art sculpture trail).  The public display involved interaction with the wider community, raising awareness of the role Carers play and their individual abilities and strengths.  Beautiful mosaics were produced, which have permanent homes in Pellew Arcade and the sea front.  Since then, a group of Carers have met weekly, calling themselves Make It Thursdays,  exploring a wide range of activities including printmaking and fabric craft.  They have continued contributing to the wider community, by developing, testing and producing the prototypes for the recycled and traditional willow lanterns that formed the foundation of last year’s successful Christmas Lantern Parade.

The diverse workshop activities each Thursday brings people together to provide creative stimulus and the opportunity to interact and develop friendships with others. The work produced celebrates the uniqueness of the individuals involved, which can sometimes be lost within a caring role.  As their contribution to TRAIL and the Christmas Lantern Parade demonstrates, it also enables this dynamic group to share their achievements, which in turn, contributes to the wellbeing of all Teignmouth residents.

Funky Aardvark

From 25th May – 23rd June, local community-run art gallery, Funky Aardvark, has very kindly given us some space within their gallery to spread the word about Volunteering in Health.

Pop in (please note it is upstairs) to find out more about the services we provide – how we could help you and how you could help us!  We’ve got a lovely cosy lounge area set up where you can learn more about Volunteering in Health.

funkyaardvark

You will also find some of the gorgeous portraits that our clients made with their pen pals from Shaldon School, led by local artist Tim Starkey.  Whilst you’re there you can even make your own portrait in our photobooth!  We’d love to see yours, please share them on our Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #funkyportrait.

funkyportrait

Thank you to Funky Aardvark for giving us this opportunity to show the community what we offer.

VIH IS MOVING!

From 7th June, Volunteering in Health will be based at Teignmouth Hospital. From here we will continue to provide all of our existing services, but our new base also means that we will be able to launch a new Information Centre, providing information and support to local people.

To run this Information Centre smoothly we will be looking for new volunteers to join our 182-strong team to welcome visitors to the centre and provide them with initial information and support. To find out more about this new volunteer role, please contact our Volunteer Co-ordinator, Em Flint.

Obviously we will take a little time to move and settle into our new home, so we ask that you bear with us for the first few weeks as we find our feet. We will endeavour to keep everything running as smoothly as possible during this time.

We would like to thank Teignmouth Hospital for inviting us to work so closely with them. This closer link will enable us to work together more effectively, resulting in better support for all our clients.

We would also like to thank Marks & Spencer’s Spark Something Good project which has provided a grant and volunteer time to help get us set up. Last year Marks & Spencer chose us as their Charity of the year and raised over £5000 for us. Thanks also to the Incredible Fund and Graham Price, Chair of Teignbridge District Council, for their financial support towards our move.

We are very excited about our new venture, please do pop in and pay us a visit and share a cuppa with us. An official launch event is being planned for Saturday 15th July.

We look forward to seeing you at the Information Centre soon!

Our new contact details will be:

Volunteering in Health, Coastal Information Centre, Teignmouth Hospital, Mill Lane, Teignmouth, Devon TQ14 9BQ – 01626 771695

Fundraising

Over the last year, we have been Marks and Spencer’s Charity of the Year.  Volunteers have been to the Newton Abbot Outlet store once a month to do bag packing, often in fancy dress!  As well as being a good fun and raising money, it has been heartwarming to see the relationships the staff have with their customers.  Many elderly clients are regulars and are well known by all the staff – they could predict with surprising accuracy who would pay by contactless, card, or cash and they knew which customers had a Sparks card or would want their bags packed.  They knew whose daughter had been to stay recently and who had just had grandchildren.  They worried if a regular hadn’t been in, and were visibly relieved if they turned up.  This is the first step towards befriending and the kindness of these staff should not be underestimated – without them, there would be a much higher demand for services like ours.

m and s
Chloe Myers collecting a cheque from M&S staff: Truly, Mandy and Sue

 

Over the course of the year, M&S raised a fantastic £2500 for Volunteering in Health.  THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us, bag packed, or donated their change – it really does add up!

words for voices photo

At the end of February, local performance group, Words for Voices, put on a concert for Volunteering in Health at Bitton House in Teignmouth.  It was a fabulous evening, full of laughter as well as several more thought provoking pieces about growing older.  We raised about £300 on the night – thank you to everyone who came – we hoped you enjoyed it!  And thank you of course to the performers for giving up their time for us.

Trinity

Trinity School in Teignmouth also did some fundraising for us at Christmas, raising an impressive £600 in one afternoon!  Thank you to everyone involved with this.

chicks

At the moment we are busily knitting Easter Chicks and stuffing them with Crème Eggs!  If you can knit or donate some chocolate eggs it would be much appreciate, supply almost never meets demand with these!!