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.

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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!!

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Roundabout

Roundabout is a monthly talking magazine which is sent out to people with sight problems or those who are unable to hold a newspaper or magazine.  It is run by Hear and Now, a lottery funded project in Dawlish which also does a weekly talking newspaper.

Last week, we were interviewed by Roundabout to tell them more about the pen pal project we have been doing with Shaldon School.  You can listen to the interview here (the March edition, our bit is from 24 minutes in).

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Thank you to Jonathan and everyone at Roundabout for helping us promote this project, and to Dorith, Eugenia, Bea and Sadie-May for taking part in the interview.

Next up in the pen pal project, we are taking our clients into school again on the 30th March to share and compare memories on a range of topics, will be compiled in a book.  After that we will be working with local artist, Tim Starkey, to do portraits of each other.  These will be displayed at Funky Aardvark in Teignmouth throughout June.

If you would like to get involved in this project in any way, please contact us.

How do we help people? One example of how our many services can work together to support one person.

They say that the one thing you can always rely on is change. When someone’s health changes, the repercussions can be far-reaching; even the most capable person suddenly finds themselves in the humbling position of being the one asking for help, rather than offering it – perhaps for the first time in their adult life.

One such person, John Vaughan, is a well-known member of the local community, through his involvement with many local charities. At the age of 85, he is still going strong as the Vice Chair for Devon Senior Voice.  He  was the Chairperson for the local Breathe Easy group, part of the British Lung Foundation, for 8 years; a charity he became involved with after his wife was diagnosed with COPD.

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John with his wife, Norma

 

Throughout his life, John has been a keen horse rider (and still is), so when he went to the doctor in October 2016 with pain in his lower back, he didn’t think much of it – assuming it was related to his riding. But the next thing he knew, he’d been told he had cancer and needed to have a kidney removed.  After such an active life, this was a huge shock, and sent John into depression.

Whilst recovering in Dawlish Hospital, John met our Hospital Link Workers, who supported him and referred him to our Wellbeing Co-ordinators for ongoing support when he came home.  It was only when he came home from hospital that John really understood how poorly he was – but his main priority was making sure his much loved dog, Wesley, was looked after!  Volunteering in Health’s Wellbeing Co-ordinator, Jill Breyley, came to visit and support him.  Though John has many friends and a supportive family, he found Jill’s support invaluable: she helped him to sort through his paperwork, arranged for rails to be put up in the garden to make it easier for him to get out, and organised a cleaner from our Home Help Service to help out at home and walk the dog – a task John’s neighbour has now gladly taken on.

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Norma, John, Jill and Wesley

 

John told us, “I’m usually a cheerful, buoyant person, and used to being a leader, but after this happened I was suddenly flat on my back. I didn’t know how to handle it.  I was prepared for the physical effects, but not the psychological effects.  There were so many people coming in and out and I didn’t know who they were or why they were there.  Jill helped me to make sense of it all.  She was a terrific help.”

John’s wife, Norma, said, “We were devastated when we found out about the cancer. It was such a shock when he had always been so fit and healthy.  He was so lucky to get over it, but it was so worrying.  He was so different – he wouldn’t eat and lost a lot of weight.”

Our Wellbeing Co-ordinator Jill Breyley said, “John was my very first client when I started in this role. It is incredible to see the difference in him now compared to just four months ago and fantastic to see how well the new Wellbeing Co-ordinator role is working for real people.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from our support, please contact us.

Photoshoot!

Recently one of our volunteers, Rachel Palmer, kindly took professional portraits of the team so that we could proudly update the Meet The Team section of our website, as well as the notice board in the office.  Now we can walk past it without cringing at the terrible taken-on-a-phone portraits that used to be in their place!  We hope you’ll agree that the photos make us look much more professional.

We had a lovely day down on the beach for the photos, it was nice just to get out of the office and all spend a bit of time together – we don’t do enough of that here!

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Meet the team: Bob

bobBob

Chief officer at Totnes Caring and Volunteering in Health

Career to date- what was your route into community transport?

“I joined Totnes caring in June 2010 and also become Chief Officer of Volunteering in Health January 2016; both organisations provide volunteer car schemes taking the elderly and vulnerable to various health and wellbeing appointments.”

 

What gives you the most job satisfaction in community transport?

“Being able to make a real difference in helping people attend much needed appointments and the positive response it gives to both the volunteer driver and the person whom they are taking in fully appreciating the value of this support.”

 

What frustrates you most about working in the community transport sector?

“Short time scales when arranging appointments as it does take a lot of work to find a volunteer driver.”

 

Do you have any Special work-related talents?

“I come from a banking background and understand the need for sustainability for both charities.”

 

Any words of wisdom that you live or work by?

“Treat others as you would like to be treated and if you can help someone then help them!”

 

What hobbies or interests do you enjoy outside of work?

“Rugby! Used to play for Totnes back in the day and support them as well as England, Chiefs and Cornwall and any other game I can get to watch.”

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day

The story of Valentinus is not a nice one, but one we carry with us. The story talks of love and loss of a young Christian man who taught a beautiful blind girl the way of Christ. He then prayed with the girl and soon god bestowed upon her the gift of sight. Valentinus was then sent to death but signed his last love letter “from your Valentine.” This story teaches us that we should live every day as though it’s our last and never forget those who love us.

For some Valentine’s Day is a hard time, they remember the love they once shared with that one special person.

However this day is a celebration of your love that has been and always will be. Some people going through bereavement may have a relapse during this period, especially if it was a special time for them and their partner.  But, the key is to remember that there are a lot of people in your life that love you that are still around.

One story showed a man who looked after his mother and father. His father had dementia and couldn’t remember how special the day used to be, so the son would buy a card for his father to give to his mother. The son would then also order flowers to be delivered to the mother’s room as the father had done in previous years. Although from the outside this may look tedious to the family it was a ritual, the love of the parents was strong even when they couldn’t show it.

Valentine’s Day is about love of all types, not just for your partner, this includes friends, family and maybe even your love for your God. If you do feel alone on Valentine’s Day there is a lot you can do, you can do something with your friends, have a family meal or even do something that makes you happy, go to the spa or make lots of cakes and biscuits.

When someone’s partner is either no longer with us or has dementia the best thing to do to help is let them know they have their family. Let them know they are loved and have a network of support to help them.

Drive n Dine

Here at Volunteering in Health we do many social drives as well as medical. One big project is the monthly ‘Drive n Dine’ event at the Alice Cross Centre. This project involves people being picked up from their home, allowing people with poor mobility to be able to get out and meet people without the expense of a taxi. The clients get dropped off at the Alice Cross Centre where they have a 2 course meal and entertainment. We help at events like this because Loneliness has been linked to cognitive decline.

To us, our social drives are just as important as our medical drives. Many studies show that social interaction can make older people mentally and physically healthier. Social isolation frequently leads to depression and a myriad of other mental health issues like anxiety that increase the amount of extra support seniors need.   By just taking someone to the ‘Drive n Dine’ event once a month you can help lower their chances of dementia and depression. This will also give them something to look forward to. This lowers the strain on the NHS as they will be healthier and in this weather it is important to keep everyone warm and healthy, older people with no social interaction are  four times more likely to come down with cold symptoms than those with lots of social contacts.

Another plus side to social activities is that it has the potential to lower blood pressure and reduce their risk of cardiovascular problems and various forms of arthritis. This is usually because those who are socially engaged are also more physically active and are more likely to maintain a nutritious diet. Social activities can also help people reduce stress and anxiety, which is what ultimately, leads to lower blood pressure levels.

While lowering the risk of many physical problems, it also gives them the confidence they need to be able to get back in to making new friends.

The Alzheimer’s Society noted that remaining socially active may improve sleep quality as well. This is important, as getting a good night’s rest is key to avoiding conditions like depression and anxiety, which people with dementia tend to be more vulnerable to. 

Positive indicators of social well-being may be associated with lower levels of age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.

If you would like to come along to any of our social events, would like a befriender, or could volunteer as a driver or befriender, please get in touch!