We are urging people to volunteer in their community to help support the NHS by keeping some of the city’s most vulnerable at home – freeing up hospital beds (January 2022).
We are aiming to boost our numbers of volunteers who help our service users with shopping, running errands, simple tasks around the home, doorstep visits and social welfare phone calls.
Our Manager, Annie Clewlow, explains: “The winter period has always been incredibly busy for charities like us, and many services see a much greater demand across all levels of need. The variety of tasks our volunteers undertake allow people to safely remain in the comfort of their own homes, which then frees up hospital beds for those who really need a medical setting, especially in current COVID times.
“We’re hoping that more kind-hearted Southampton residents can come forward to support their local communities and give back, whether that be on a more permanent weekly basis as a Communiteer, which is what we call our volunteers, for example making regular phone calls for our ‘Hello Southampton’ service. Or if they can help with fundraising for our services and raising awareness on a more ad hoc basis. We need volunteers to support our various special events and occasions that we host throughout the year and we also need runners to fundraise for us by running the ABP Marathon in April.
“Giving back and caring has never felt more rewarding and there is a real spirit enjoyed by those who join us. It’s well-known that this time of year can also be more isolating and lonelier than any other so it’s vital we can help provide for those who need us. Plus, it’s beneficial for your own health and wellbeing too.”
Our Good Neighbours’ Network currently supports more than 550 individuals/families through tasks including one-to-one telephone befriending, transport for essential appointments and assistance with shopping.
Annie adds: “Volunteering is varied, our friendly Communiteers provide valued support from making regular telephone calls, just to check in, which is great if you don’t feel able to meet face-to-face. As well as safely driving people to medical appointments, shopping for those unable to leave home as the weather worsens, and of course, providing emotional support.
“Winter can be one of the loneliest times for many of those we help, as they have no family or no one living close by. We would love to hear from people from all generations interested in supporting us at this time of year to get in touch. But please remember volunteering is not just for now, it’s important all year round!”
The services we provide are free to users, although beneficiaries are invited to make a donation if they are able to, and Communiteers are offered expenses.
Linda Sharman, one of our volunteers: “We’re also encouraging businesses to reignite their corporate social responsibility by working with us as part of our ‘Best at Home’ service, which offers regular scheduled phone calls to the isolated or vulnerable.
“We are asking businesses to offer their teams to volunteer for ‘Best at Home’ in the winter months and beyond through their corporate volunteering programmes. A few hours of strategic volunteering like this can create more impact than days of activity and can be very rewarding for those who volunteer too.
“We know many businesses still have teams working from home and are dealing with issues related to their wellbeing and potential isolation, so being involved with making calls for us could help them too.
“Although I didn’t do this through my place of work, it could work perfectly if it were on offer. Having a one-hour slot where I check in with the folk who need this support is easy to fit into a schedule and a lovely way to get involved with helping out in the local community.”