Volunteers in Reading are making a big difference to isolated people as well as gaining a great deal of enjoyment for themselves.
Last month Whitley Wood Lunch Club celebrated its 1st Anniversary with a buffet lunch, singalong entertainment and quite bit of dancing too! Volunteers and supporters had organised a raffle with everything from flowers, scented candles, posh toiletries and a bottle of fizz to jewelry, cake and chocolates. The event marked the establishment of this new social and lunch club for isolated older people that began fortnightly in the community centre and now meets every week.
Regular caller of the raffle Ian is from elsewhere in town but is a WWLC regular since being introduced by a friend. “Everyone is just so friendly and you meet people with lots of different backgrounds and experiences. It makes it really interesting. And the volunteers do such a great job for us. When you look around at what’s happening in some parts of the world, little children and families getting bombed out of their homes, people with no doctors and nurses – well I just feel grateful for what I have and want to make the most of life. If there was a club like this nearer my home, I’d still come to WWLC because of the fun and the friends I’ve made. So hopefully if they do start one it’ll be on a different day so I can join that too.”
Volunteer Frankie clearly enjoys being part of the Whitley Wood team and when she’s not dancing, singing or quizzing, helps lay out the lunch, serve the teas and coffees, and share her love of a good old chat. As much as anything else, this is the part of her role at the club that is most appreciated by the members – being able to chat with a great new set of friends, whether they are regular members or volunteers – it’s all part of the same supportive and sociable mix.
And thank goodness there are the Annes of this world who take pride in keeping the kitchen ship-shaped. Anne started coming to the club when she had some health problems that limited her ability to get out and about, but now she’s a regular member of the volunteer team and gets a lot of satisfaction from ‘giving something back’.
The club at Whitley Wood was set up with help from Reading Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Team and Sarah Hunneman from RBC still anchors the facilitation of the club, ably helped by enthusiastic and generous volunteers and friends from the local Rotary. There are similar council-sponsored clubs in Southcote and Caversham Park, as well those clubs and activities run by charities like Age UK, Alzheimers Society and a host of local faith and community groups.
Could you find a little time to support isolated older people in the community? You’ll be surprised how much you fun you can have! Here’s a sample of the opportunities currently on our website: