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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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!!

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!

Gifts in Memoriam

One way of supporting our work is by remembering Volunteering in Health when making your will or by amending your existing will to include a gift for Volunteering in Health.

We do not receive any statutory funding and rely solely on grants, donations and community fundraising. An important way that we can increase our sources of income is in the form of gifts made by supporters in their wills (called a legacy).

Why do I need a will?

When thinking about your will, your first priority will be to make sure that the people you love and care for are provided for in the future. This can only be done with certainty by making a valid will.

If you don’t have a valid will, then the law will decide who should receive your assets (called your estate) on your death and this may mean that your assets are divided in a very different way from what you intended; so it is best to be certain and to make a will.

Although it is possible to make a will without one, it is a good idea to get some advice and seek the help from a qualified solicitor.

Tozers Solicitors in Teignmouth have kindly agreed to waive their fees for writing a will, in return for a donation to Volunteering in Health.

A gift in your will for Volunteering in Health

After making provision for your loved ones in your will, we would like you to consider supporting our work in the future by making a gift in your will to Volunteering in Health. This can be done by leaving a set amount in your will. This gift is called a legacy or you may decide to leave a share of your estate to Volunteering in Health.

It is usually a simple matter to leave a gift to Volunteering in Health in your will and need not be expensive. Just ask your solicitor to include a paragraph (clause) in your will or, if you have already made a will, ask the solicitor to add an amendment to it called a codicil.

Gifts in a will to Charities such as Volunteering in Health can also help to reduce any Inheritance Tax liability which may arise on your death and a solicitor will be able to give you advice on this.

It is often mistakenly thought that a gift has to be for a large sum of money. This is not the case and Volunteering in Health would be grateful to receive any donations, large or small, to help us continue our work and to reach out and support the people in our community who need a helping hand.

Meet the Team: Chloe

chloe-skydiveBest known by many for her charity skydive in March 2016, Chloe joined VIH in February 2014 as Volunteer Co-ordinator. As part of restructuring in November 2015, Chloe was promoted to Office Manager, overseeing the day-to-day running of the team, whilst Bob Alford was taken on as Chief Officer to manage the overall sustainability of the charity.

chloe

 

How did you join VIH?

Before VIH, I was working at a social enterprise in Newton Abbot, and one of its aims was to support other lottery funded projects, so one evening I found myself lugging tables and chairs around and pouring mulled wines for a VIH Christmas Event in December 2013. On the night I met several of the staff and volunteers and was really impressed with their dedication to the charity, so when an advert came up in the local paper a few weeks later it seemed like fate!

What do you like about working for VIH?

There is such a feel good factor to this job. Small acts of kindness go a really long way and I see our staff and volunteers supporting so many people week in week out.  It’s heartwarming!  I’m a Teignmouth Girl through and through and it’s a real pleasure to be able to work in and support my own community – not to mention convenient!

What has been your best moment so far?

chloe-and-julie-christmas-visitsMy main highlight has to be one Christmas, when Julie Dingley and I made up a hamper of goodies and took them around to some of our clients to surprise them.  It was the most wonderful day, and its coverage in the local paper really helped raise awareness of the charity.  Soon after it was printed Ken and Sheila Goodsell came in to enquire about volunteering: they have since become our Chair and our Transport Co-ordinator.  At the moment I’m really enjoying working on the penfriendship project with Shaldon School pupils.

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

This year has been huge for me and for the charity. I feel like we are now at a point where we have a full team who are working together really well and enjoying their work, making a real difference to the community.  Now that everyone is settled in I just can’t wait to have a big clearout of our various storage areas!  These are full of things people have donated to us over the years, craft items and lots more – I am hoping to find some real gems!