On my on-going tour of Reading meeting a range of volunteers, I recently stopped by the Southcote Over 50’s Lunch and Social Club. With over 30 people enjoying lunch, bingo and more it was clearly a lively place to be on a Monday afternoon. When she had a moment, I managed to grab a chat with Ruth Hall who shared her volunteering experience with me.
How did you get involved in volunteering?
It started around a year ago when me and my sister, who’s retired, were going to come along as clients, but when we got here we realised we were, sort of, the younger end of the scale, so we thought “oh, I’ll make a few cups of tea and sit and have a chat with them” and before we knew it, we were helping.
We started volunteering at the club in Caversham. I was out of work at the time, so we started just going along once a week and seeing how we got on and we really enjoyed it so we stayed. Then this one opened, and because I live local, I said “how about just for a couple of weeks?” and really liked it.
I’m working now, but I still continue to do this on a Monday, because I love it, yeah, absolutely love it
What does the volunteering involve?
I’ve got my food hygiene certificate, so I’m able to help with the food, which I enjoy. We do quizzes, raffle, bingo… we do singing at the end. I normally miss that because I’ve gone off,… it’s good. Good fun.
I do the shopping; at our Christmas party, we was wrapping up all the presents; everything, there’s not a minute, you know. We’re always busy. It’s good.
They’re a lively group. They’re so appreciative as well. They’re lovely. You know, we’ll be doing their birthdays this week, we’ll celebrate, and just little things. We had a lovely Christmas party, yeah, it was just a lovely atmosphere.
What difference do you make to those you are helping?
You talk to them and they say “oh, since my husband died, I haven’t been out” and, you know, apart from coming here once a week, they don’t see anybody all week and they love it. It’s just to have a chat and a bite to eat. It’s good for them.
What do you get out of it?
When I started I was off work and I needed something to get me out of the house basically. I’ve made a lot of new friends. I love all the clients, they’re just so much fun.
It’s very rewarding. It’s not like work. I mean I am committed to coming here every week but I think I enjoy it more because I know I haven’t got to do it if I really didn’t want to, but because I enjoy it, it keeps me coming back each week
What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering?
I would just say definitely do it. It’s very rewarding. You get to meet a lot of people.
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