Our seventh Volunteers’ Week Spirit Story comes from Eileen – a volunteer with Age UK Manchester.
"Age UK Manchester (formerly Age Concern Manchester) is an independent charity working with and for older people across Manchester.
Age UK Manchester offers information, advice and support to people aged 60 or over, we provide high quality day, home and residential care in Manchester and run a number of projects and services for older people throughout Manchester."
Many volunteers tell us that they feel very satisfied in the knowledge of making a positive impact upon the lives of others. Many also tell of their experiences gathered during their time with us, describing them as valuable and helpful on their own life paths.
Kim Hyde, Ageing Well and Volunteer Lead said:
"We find that people will come and develop with us - we do have set roles (such as in our day centres and with ageing well clubs and activities), but quite often we'll find ourselves developing a role around a specific skill - it could be gardening for example!"
"We have regular meetings where we come together to talk about what we all do and how we can improve this. We recently had a Cheese and Wine Night as part of Volunteers' Week - all the volunteers from different teams (cafe, gardening, day centre etc) came together and it was a great success!
Kim Hyde (left): "Just come and see what we (Age UK Manchester) do, if you like what you see, we'll have a way that you can get involved!"
Eileen Jackson - Volunteer for Age UK Manchester
How and why did you get into volunteering?
"I used to be a Community Development Officer for Manchester City Council - for many years and had encountered volunteering from this point of view. When I retired (about 12 years ago), I took a little break so that I could take a look at my life, what I did - and to take some time out."
"Despite this, people would ask me: 'will you come and join our management committee, will you help us fundraise?', I think ibecause it was part of my job."
"I'd always resisted it and would say to myself: 'that's what I did for a living - why would I want to do it as a volunteer?' So I did lots of other things; I visited art galleries and museums, I went to concerts, keep-fit, until one day a friend contacted me and said: 'you've been sat on your bum for a long time - come to this meeting with me.'"
"She took me to Crossacres Resource Centre in Wythenshawe (where Age UK carry out a lot of their work), to sit in on a meeting about getting something called 'Come Dancing' events off the ground - although I was there as an observer, I found myself speaking after no more than ten minutes - I was really drawn in by it all, I met Kim and other people that volunteer for Age UK Manchester and before I knew it, I was volunteering with the organisation."
"And here I am now, ten plus years later!"
Can you describe a typical day when you volunteer with your organisation?
"It's so varied! Last week I was helping in the Cafe - a volunteer who'd helped previously had recently left and I was filling in; opening up, preparing food and greeting people. I could be going to a meeting on behalf of the organisation, representing them and feeding back what I've shared or found out, each day or time I help is different!"
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
"What I like is the flexibility, for me it isn't a full time commitment - I can still go to keep fit, the theatre and do other things. I enjoy being able to programme my time for volunteering."
"I've used the skills I've had - and still have, to benefit Age UK Manchester; by organising events and activities and supporting fundraising."
"I enjoy hearing from new people that I meet through volunteering, fellow volunteers tell me that they've improved their confidence, they have a lot of fun, they like the camaraderie and social aspect of volunteering - and it get's them 'out of the house' which is good for their health".
"For me, it also allows me to still be involved in my community where I live - and I want to carry on participating and give soemthing back."
Eileen Jackson (bottom left): "You give a lot; you give your time, your energy, but you get a 'feel good' feeling."
What advice would you give to other people that want to volunteer?
"Just give it a go, whatever it is, everybody's got skills to share - even if you think you haven't; you can simply just sit and talk to somebody, you can complete paperwork, help in a shop or a cafe. It doesn't matter how old you are - all you need is enthusiasm and energy (and we all have that in adundance!)."
Kim on Age UK Manchester Volunteers:
"Thank you to Eileen and all the volunteers that support us at Age UK Manchester - put simply: they do an amazing job!"
Age UK Manchester is keen to hear from people who would like to support them; you can read more about the organisation and ways to get involved via their website at: ageuk.org.uk/manchester.