A long-standing and vital North Yorkshire charity is hoping to recruit 10 new volunteers by the end of the year, and is appealing to local people of all ages to consider the benefits of spending time with local elderly people.
Harrogate based Supporting Older People (SOP) currently has 90 volunteers and the charity hopes to find 10 more people to reach the 100 milestone. SOP carefully assess and match older people with volunteer visitors, organise social activities, outings and events as well as hosting fundraising events and organising Harrogate’s annual celebration for International Day of Older Persons.
The charity recently organised a fundraising ‘Ladies Day’ at Hotel Du Vin, raising almost £1,500. One of the event sponsors was LCF Barber Titleys. Jackie Ashton, who is a solicitor within its Personal Law team, and chair of SOP, said:
SOP has been running for 37 years and relies totally on donations of time and money. With a very small office team, we make sure every penny counts, and without the generosity of our 90 volunteers and the money donated, we simply would not be able to bring so much happiness and cheer to over 200 older people we support in and around Harrogate.
Loneliness and feelings of isolation are terrible no matter what age you are. With many people living for longer on their own, it’s essential we all pull together to help as best we can. Understandably people have busy lives, often with considerable work and family commitments, which is why we offer a range of volunteering options. People can volunteer to simply be a telephone friend – making a regular weekly call to one of our older people makes a huge difference. Other volunteers visit homes for a cup of tea and a chat, and others take them out on a day trip or to the shops.
SOP also runs a programme of organised outings, a ‘tea and talk’ session at The Crown Hotel with guest speakers, a ‘dining out’ club on the first Monday of the month, and an ‘over 60’s singing’ group at St Peter’s Church on the third Wednesday of each month.
We have volunteers that range in age from 25-83, but the one thing they all have in common is a willingness to make a difference by sparing half an hour to an hour of their time a week. The feedback we get from our volunteers confirms it’s time well spent. We make sure we pair likeminded volunteers and older people together, with similar interests. Many of our older people have lost touch with old friends and family or their health may prevent them from getting out and about, so a phone call or visit are something they really look forward to. We have found that the regular contact makes a lasting difference, raises self-esteem, maintains independence and greatly improves the quality of life for the older person and, often, the volunteer.
Anyone can volunteer, subject to DBS checks and two references. We also have volunteer drivers, fundraisers and trustees and we support all of our volunteers by giving them a dedicated befriending manager, to take them through the whole process.
For more information on how to volunteer or make a donation visit www.supportingolderpeople.org.uk/ or call 01423 531 490.