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.




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!


Meet the team: Bob


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.”




Meet the Team: Gill

Gill retired from her role as a Community Nurse in 2014, but found that she missed supporting people in the community.  Not long after retiring, she joined VIH as a volunteer, but within weeks we had snapped her up to be our Memory Loss Support Worker.




I have worked for VIH since March 2015 as Memory Support Worker. In my role I provide support, information and signposting to clients living with a memory problem, and their carers. I help them remain well and involved in the community for as long as possible, which then reduces the feeling of loneliness and isolation that a memory problem can bring.

In 2016 I became the co-ordinator for the Teignmouth and Dawlish Memory cafes. These are run monthly and are social, relaxed sessions where clients and their carers can get together for a cup of tea or coffee and join in any activity that we have planned.

Recently I helped to launch ‘Music 4 Memories’, which involves group singing, playing of instruments and quizzes.

It’s good to see people out, joining in and having fun.

Meet the Team: Jackie

jackie-milan-1Our Carer Support Worker, Jackie, is one of our longest standing staff members, having been with VIH since 2013.  Jackie has lots of experience working with all kinds of carers, and is especially skilled when it comes to shifting raffle tickets!!  She is a keen crafter and festival goer.  This afternoon she is taking a group of carers out for a Christmas lunch at Trade Winds in Teignmouth, somewhere that is well known for giving everyone a lovely warm welcome!

My specific role at ViH is to support Carers with their caring by visiting them in their homes on a one-to-one basis to offer relevant information.  I run a Carers meeting on the last Wednesday of the month at Bitton House from 2pm to 4pm, cared for and former Carers are also welcome.  We have a variety of speakers and activities, tea and home-made cakes are served half way through the meeting.

Following on from a very successful lunch during Carers Week earlier in the year, I now organise a monthly lunch at Trade Winds.  This has proved to be very popular with Carers, the person they care for and also former Carers. Transport is provided if necessary by ViH’s Team of voluntary drivers.


For any Carers who are interested in trying different types of crafts, a weekly group is held at Teignmouth Arts Action Group (TAAG). They have produced a variety of work including a project for the TRAIL during the summer (pictured).  They also made some of the poppies which were displayed on the anchor outside Teignmouth Museum.  

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.



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!