How our army of volunteers offer an enriching service.
Every week, our homes are visited by a small ‘army’ of volunteers who give their time to enrich the quality of life of our residents.
They don’t fulfil the same roles as paid members of staff but, whether helping out at events or simply chatting and listening, they are important and much valued members of the Colten Care family.
Here, with our sincere thanks, we highlight just a small handful of volunteers and ask what they feel get out of their involvement with us. We visited Canford Chase, a home with a team of volunteers, and Abbey View, where a famous TV personality is a devoted visitor.
If you would like the experience of volunteering and have some time available, please speak with the Home Manager about any opportunities we may have.
In 2007 Joan Wilson was invited along to our Canford Chase home in Poole to provide short term assistance to a resident.
Eight years on she is still helping out at the home each week and says she feels a valued part of the team.
Joan, from Westbourne near Poole, explained: “I was asked to go and help a lady who had been in hospital and was moving into the home. She needed someone to sort out her house and bills and I enjoyed visiting her and the home so much I just never stopped coming.
“Maria the activities organiser calls and asks me to come in and help with different things – visiting someone, helping with an event or just pouring tea (I am known as Chief Tea Pourer!) – and if I am free, I come.”
She continued: “I am 75 this year, a similar age to many of the residents at the home and I think they feel comfortable with me because of that.
“We chat and there is always lots of laughter. For me it’s also nice to feel needed and the staff make me feel very much part of the team.”
Valerie Singleton MBE is perhaps best known as a former presenter of Blue Peter, but for the past nine years she has also become a ‘household name’ at Abbey View in Sherborne.
Valerie, who lives nearby, has been visiting the home since 2007 when her father became a resident there. After he died in the summer of 2008, she continued her link by drawing raffles and attending special occasions and this has now expanded into a monthly talk.
She said: “I read to residents from my books and show DVDs of travel programmes I have made. Recently this has included films on my visits to Greece and also to Kenya with Princess Anne. I enjoy spending time here and am very fond of everyone. The staff also give me a wonderful lunch and it really is a lovely place to be. I would highly recommend becoming a volunteer. It’s very rewarding.”
Abbey View activities organiser Becky Marsh said: “We are extremely grateful to Valerie for all she does as a volunteer. She is very generous with her time, nothing is too much trouble and she has really become part of the family at Abbey View.”
Making up a hat-trick of volunteers from Canford Chase, Helen Brooks is actually part of a successful volunteering ‘double act’.She explained: “My pet dog Tigger regularly visits the home with me and the residents absolutely adore him. He’s a Shi Tzu and I even took him in on Christmas Day dressed up as Father Christmas.”
Helen, 69, is from Poole and a widow. After retiring from a long career as a hairdresser five years ago, she knew she wanted to keep busy and looked at volunteering.
She said: “You always get such a warm welcome at Canford Chase and I have made some lovely friendships with residents and staff. I have been trained in pushing wheelchairs and the like and I do whatever needs doing – helping out at events, clearing away or just offering an ear. Volunteering at the home helps the residents and the staff but it also gives me company. It’s wonderful.”
Canford Chase activities organiser Maria Grant said: “All our volunteers including Pat, Joan and Helen help make up the soul of the home. No one ever says ‘no’ when I ask them to come and help out and they play a big part in providing the homely atmosphere we have here. They are all very special people.”
Pat Meaden is another valued Canford Chase volunteer. But she actually started out as a resident of the home.She explained: “I had major surgery on my foot in March 2014 and as I live alone, I came into Canford Chase to recuperate, which I enjoyed immensely. In December 2015 I had the same op on my other foot, but there wasn’t room for me at Canford Chase so I went to another home, which I didn’t like as much. When Colten Care heard about it they gave me a free stay at Canford Chase and I came back again.”
In July 2015 Pat went along to the Canford Chase summer fete and the home manager Charlotte asked if she would consider becoming a volunteer.
“I said I would be very happy to and I now come in most weeks and spend time with residents and help out with events and trips,” said Pat. “Some people don’t have a lot of visitors, so I sit and chat with them and keep them company. As someone who worked in youth social care for 38 years before retiring I suppose I have caring in my blood and I have come to care very deeply for Canford Chase, its staff and residents.”