As part of my recent RVA Youth project I was given an opportunity to attend Age UK Reading’s Chimneys Activity, Lunch & Social Club. Whilst celebrating Arthur’s 103rd birthday I had the opportunity to speak to Age UK Reading volunteer Gabriele Petrosino. Gabriele explained his passion for volunteering, what he gets out of it and what he would say to those considering taking up volunteering.
How did you come to be volunteering?
I was always in retail, and so I know what it’s like when people come into your shop and start chatting in order to get worries off their chest – they normally go away more lighter spirited, you know, because they’ve got someone who’s actually got time to listen to them.
You’d get regular customers and being there numerous years meant that you got to know all the individuals, and you got to know people and you’d pop round and have a chat, maybe a cup of tea and do a bit of shopping for them, and maybe on the odd occasion take them to the doctor’s. In that respect I had a general idea of what (this kind of) volunteering was all about and I enjoyed it.
“I suddenly retired about five years ago, so I had the time to get more involved”
What does the volunteering involve?
We serve lunch and we play bingo and various other games, but we generally try to keep them (the people attending the club) entertained. We do a lot of chatting – you know it’s that one-to-one contact which is important as many of them suffer from loneliness, and so we provide company – someone to talk to them.
“It’s human nature to want to reach out and communicate, and the lunch clubs offer the opportunity for this”
What do you feel that you get out of the volunteering?
I feel my philosophy is to help humankind, help people, and so my means of helping people is actually going out there and listening to people and helping them to do various things. To me, that’s my way of contributing to humankind, so here I am, doing my bit.
I’m getting satisfaction because I am an extrovert by nature – I get that satisfaction, which I obviously miss having done away with the shop. I would see about a hundred, two hundred people a day, and now I see no one so obviously there is that loss of communicating with people.
“My philosophy is to do good and this is my way of doing it. I enjoy it vastly”
What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering?
I would try to find out why they wanted to do it, and appraise what sort of character they’ve got, and what would be best for them because some people are better off one-to-one – they’re the sort of people that do befriending. Other people, the sort that are natural extroverts, would like a situation like this. Some would prefer administration -they’re contributing… they can do good from an office.
Inspired? Current volunteering opportunities with Age UK include:
- Friendly helpers needed for our Chimneys Club
- Help us make our Weirside Club a comfortable and welcoming place to visit
- Enthusiastic volunteers needed to help promote our work
- Put your imagination, creativity and energy to good use
- Help older people gain from the therapeutic benefits a well maintained garden brings
- Provide friendship and support to improve the quality of life for older people
- Have a huge positive impact on someone’s life by just picking up the phone
- Help us make our clubs a comfortable and welcoming place to visit
- Join our team at the Lively Living Activity Club Woodley