Volunteering is good for everyone!

Published on: 1 January 2017

Giving just a little of your time can make a big difference, not only to those you’re helping but to yourself too. A May 2012 study by the Royal Voluntary Service (formerly the WRVS) found that volunteering in later life decreased depression and social isolation. It was also found to boost quality of life and life satisfaction. For us as Christians, it’s also encouraged in the Bible: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

As you will have read in the previous article, our Cathedral relies on its volunteers. A number of other local organisations are also actively looking for volunteers, and we’ve given space to four here for you to consider.

Be a friend to someone in hospital

NCHC NHS Trust have launched a new volunteering service and are looking for Befriending volunteers for elderly people. Befriending volunteers spend time with patients that are by themselves. The aim of the role is to ease loneliness, providing companionship and brightening up someone’s day. We’re looking for friendly people that can commit to six months, either spending two hours a week on a ward or visiting someone for an hour or so each week in their own home. Neither role involves medical or personal care, just making cups of tea, being a good listener, maybe sharing a puzzle, crossword or other activity.

Eric Steward started volunteering at Norwich Community Hospital, following his retirement. He now spends one afternoon a week visiting patients on the wards. “I certainly get a lot from the role,” said Eric. “I visit Alder Ward every Thursday and will go and sit with patients who don’t have visitors by their bedside. I really enjoy every aspect of the role, you meet so many different people who have done all sorts of interesting things in their lifetime. It’s very rewarding for me, and the patients seem to enjoy having someone different to chat to.”

To enquire about volunteering please contact fnzhry.fpbgg@apup.auf.hx or telephone 01603 272337.

Make a difference around the world

Across Norfolk there are enthusiastic teams of people who help to make a difference to some of the poorest people in the world through Christian Aid. They might help to organise fundraising events, hold supermarket collections or be a point of contact at their church for information about poverty.

Many of these volunteers are retired and raise money for people in disasters including shelter for refugees, food for the hungry and also long term solutions to poverty. Some people help regularly or at key times when there are emergencies, or at Christian Aid Week in May.

One person’s life who has been changed is Celestin, a priest in the Democratic of Congo, who watched his Bishop and nine other priests slain in front of him. Now Celestin and his community provide shelter and food to people who are also fleeing from violence. This would not be possible without volunteers.

A volunteer organiser, Enid Andrew of Attleborough says: “I volunteer for Christian Aid because my geographical birthplace has been fortunate. I have not had to watch my children die of starvation but I can help prevent the death of another Mother’s child.”

To join our team contact woelnag@puevfgvna-nvq.bet or telephone 01603 620051.

Listen to children read in local primary schools

Can you spare an hour or two a week to listen to children read in a local primary school? Schoolreaders is looking for more volunteers in Norfolk to carry out this important role.

Reading time for many children at home and at school is often insufficient and one in four children are now leaving primary school unable to read to the required standard. This can have a lifelong consequence. No qualifications are necessary, just a good command of spoken and written English.

Schoolreaders is flexible and will match your availability to an appropriate, local school. Our volunteers find the scheme incredibly rewarding, knowing that a few hours helping a child learn to read each week can have such a great impact on their life chances.

Please visit the website www.schoolreaders.org to join, or call Bianca Myers on 01234 924111 for further information.

Volunteer with your pet

Pets As Therapy (PAT) is a national charity founded in 1983 to enhance health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals.

We provide a visiting service in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues in Norfolk and all across the UK.

PAT volunteers improve literacy in children by developing their confidence, interest and enjoyment in reading through our Read2Dogs scheme.

PAT volunteers continue to make a significant difference to the lives of vulnerable people in Norfolk. As well as the regular visits volunteers give their time to support people in Hellesdon and The Julian hospitals, the Norvic Clinic, University of East Anglia and HMPs Norwich and Wayland.

Retired psychiatric nurse and PAT volunteer Sheena says: “Volunteering with PAT is an extremely, rewarding experience. The animal/human bond is very strong and mutually beneficial.”

PAT is in desperate need of more volunteers. If you feel you have a suitable animal and would like to join the team please look at www.petsastherapy.org or contact the Norwich PAT Co-ordinator and dog assessor on pnebyr_nqnz@zfa.pbz or telephone 01603 664988.

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