I started volunteering with Innovate Volunteering after retirement, nearly 2 years ago. I had been in the same job for 30 years and was eager to get involved in something different. My hobby has always been singing, music and entertaining family and friends with games of bingo, karaoke etc. I was asked if I was interested in volunteering at Bryer Road Community Centre, with events for some of their more vulnerable groups. This was a perfect opportunity for me to use my hobby whilst supporting my local community.
When we went into Lockdown, I had a call from Innovate asking if I could possibly pick up some shopping for a vulnerable couple in my road. I did this and then offered my services if they had any other clients close to where I live. My wife and I ended up shopping and checking on 4 different people who live a short walk from my house. I became acutely aware of the isolation that some people were facing.
I then made the decision to hold an outside, socially distanced entertainment day for local people. I took all my equipment into my drive and we played bingo, sang along to music and generally had a nice, fun social gathering. People who lived on their own had brought a chair out into their front gardens, groups of families brought chairs out and it was very uplifting for them and for me. I had so much positive feedback and people wanting it to continue that we started to do the events regularly, when the weather was nice.
We have continued to support neighbours with their shopping and many of our neighbours are now supporting each other, where they may not have known each other previously. I am not sure how we will keep the momentum going through the winter but I personally believe that neighbours are now more likely to keep an eye out for each other as a result of them having the opportunities to get together, whilst maintaining social distance.
“I then made the decision to hold an outside, socially distanced entertainment day for local people”
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