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#Volunteers Week: “Volunteering gives you a feeling of self worth”

This Volunteers’ Week ExtraCare join so many around the UK in an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. At ExtraCare we have an active network of over 2,500 volunteers that are truly at the heart of what we do. Volunteers make a real difference within our communities, and we thank each one of you for selflessly giving your time both in and outside of our locations.

Barbara Barnes, 82, a resident and volunteer from Stoke Gifford Village tells us what volunteering means to her and how she was able to adapt her role during the pandemic.

“I volunteer mainly on reception but during lockdown I set up and coordinated a recycling collection team and a team to deliver orders from supermarkets to people who, like myself, were in isolation. This was carried out on my computer, in my apartment, adhering to government and ExtraCare guidelines.

I have been a resident for three years. I previously lived in Portugal for 14 years and returned to the UK because of ill health. I enjoy most aspects of village life. You never need be lonely – unless you wish to. There is so much to be involved in; the facilities and the entertainment provided. I also like the fact that when I feel like it, I can relax in my apartment and not feel any intrusion.

I have been volunteering for approximately two and a half years I chose to do this because I needed to become more involved in village life and also to do something that involved using my brain. I had previously been employed in education and on retirement moved to live in Portugal where I became involved in the management of an animal charity. Therefore, when the village asked for volunteers in a variety of areas, I applied to work in the library, to ‘buddy’ new residents and on reception. I was given the role to help on reception and have been involved in other areas e.g. editing the village monthly magazine and coordinating weekly rotas for volunteers on reception.

I think volunteering is extremely important. It can give you a feeling of self-worth and keeps you active both physically and mentally. It is a means of getting to know other residents and integrating with others. Personally, I feel volunteering is also a means of giving something back for all the opportunities offered in our village.

My role as a volunteer on reception is mainly to help and support the main receptionist. I am able to greet residents, visitors and residents’ family and friends. I book residents into various activities and take their fees if appropriate. I have volunteer access to the till. I am also able to send important messages to the staff and care offices using the computer provided for volunteers on reception.

If residents phone to reception, I am able to answer most of their queries or transfer/direct them to the appropriate department. I can cover reception for short periods of time whilst the main receptionist has a meeting or a lunch break. It is important to ensure strict confidentiality at all times and I feel I am able to do this.

My favourite part of volunteering is meeting and greeting people. I try to keep a positive approach at all times but occasionally people, especially residents, need sympathy and empathy and I hope I fulfil this when needed.

I would definitely recommend volunteering. Individuals can usually find a niche regardless of whether they are outgoing or shy.”

“I think volunteering is extremely important. It can give a feeling of self-worth and keeps you active both physically and mentally. It is a means of getting to know other residents and integrating with others.”