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InfoMail feature issue: volunteering

AnchorFor our first feature issue on 6th July we celebrate: volunteering


Congratulations to those who volunteer

Whilst volunteering isn’t just for “older people”, it is true that many older people volunteer in a number of ways – but what is volunteering?  Volunteering is where you offer your time and skills for free to a charity, organisation or an individual who is not a member of your family or a friend.  It might involve anything from becoming a Trustee of a charity, sitting on a project group, handing out leaflets and offering support to someone with a medical condition or who is housebound. You could also consider product or technology testing, taking part in online surveys, volunteering as an advocate or taking part in research.

In June this year, 14 charities came together in a city-wide celebration of the wonderful volunteers in Newcastle (part of a national celebration).  Coordinated by Volunteer Centre Newcastle, an organisation that is pivotal in promoting volunteering and supporting the voluntary sector to find volunteers, nearly 80 people turned up to find out about volunteering. The feedback below is testament to the value of volunteering:

” What a lovely event! Everyone was so friendly. Some organisations were new to me – GoodGym and the Great Exhibition of the North. Thanks for organising”

“Lovely, open event to meet volunteers and other organisations. Well organised and friendly”

Volunteer Centre Newcastle has over 800 volunteer roles on their website which you can browse or contact Karen Watson.  You can also sign up to their newsletter to receive regular alerts.

Please visit InformationNow for more information on volunteering


Have you thought about volunteering for research?

Volunteering for research takes many forms.  There is a rich landscape of volunteering options and they may escape your notice as the research world may refer to it as patient and public involvement or say they are recruiting a lay person.

There’s never been a better time to get involved in NHS, public health or social care research and the opportunities are plentiful. A changing society and pressures on health and care services mean that research is essential to discover the care and treatments which meet patients’ needs and which genuinely improve services.  Evidence shows us, that our ageing population is putting a strain on resources, but would our older members of society be here without the benefit of medical and public health research?  And, we can learn from their insights and develop strategies to make sure that ageing is healthy and enjoyable .  Whether you are a patient or a member of the public, there are many areas of research you can contribute to.  Taking part is exciting and can lead you into new experiences that you didn’t expect.

“I thought the idea of a toolkit was helpful to people who require home care.  It’s not all applicable but you can see what to expect from care and think about whether those standards are met.  By taking part, I am helping my future self and all those who need home care in the future.”  Dorothy on the NNA home care toolkit 2016.

“You’re the most experienced person on what’s happened to you and that experience can really help. You don’t need to speak on behalf of all patients, just give your opinion based on what you know”.  Mark who helped with prosthetic design in 2014

“You don’t have to be unwell or have several medical problems.  You can help by reviewing research proposals. I am a lay member of a research design service.  I  don’t know all the medical terminology but I can check and get by.  It’s worthwhile and may help in a big way one day.”  Jenny, Local Research Design service 2014

For more information on participating in research visit:
VOICE – based at Newcastle University
National Institute for Health Research

You might also like to think about the health issues that concern you – such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and contact the relevant organisations. You can also contact your local NHS hospital. Many of these local and national organisations are listed on Information NOW.

AnchorVolunteering opportunities

Become a cancer champion through training from HealthWORKS Newcastle.  You will be trained to raise awareness with family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues so that cancer is not a hidden or difficult issue and people are encouraged to attend screening. Contact Julie Stephens by email or on 0191 264 1959. The first training dates are on 10 & 17 July at West End Resource Centre (HealthWORKS office) and there will be further ones scheduled from September onwards.

Take part in research into Rheumatoid Arthritis for people aged  70-85 and in generally good health.  VOICE are looking for healthy volunteers to take part in a study to understand the autoimmune system better.  The researcher will contact interested participants individually.


Volunteering is good for your health

In April this year, GoodGym came to Newcastle having found success as a concept elsewhere.  Since setting up, 42 runners have made a difference to older people’s lives.  There have been nine group runs with 247 attendances. On 22nd June they also completed their first community mission in Newcastle where five runners went to help out at The Great Get Together at Elswick Park in support of the Jo Cox Foundation.

GoodGym want to help people in their homes and gardens so get in touch if you need support or you know someone who does.

The Park Run UK team has published their 2017 report which reveals, through case studies and statistics, the great impact they are having with fitness, friendship and healthy living. The Park Run welcomes runners from 4 years (juniors) to elderly runners. They also have a great volunteering ethos and welcome teenagers through to older people too. Park Run UK had 118 thousand volunteers involved globally in 2017, and their Event Directors and Outreach ambassadors are volunteers too.
If you are interested in becoming a Newcastle Park Run volunteer, contact Newcastle Helpers.

Please visit InformationNow for more information on volunteering


Volunteering helps people get jobs

Since opening in late April, Smart Works Newcastle supported sixteen women who were successful at interview and are moving to paid employment. With the help of 60 newly recruited volunteers who are skilled in dressing and interview coaching, Smart Works has supported 38 women in two months and is clearly a great asset to the city.  At present the organisation doesn’t have openings for interview or dressing volunteers, but they would like people to host clothing drives or support them in managing their stock room and fitting room.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact the Newcastle office.

Please visit InformationNow for more information on work and retirement 

Volunteering shows pride in where you live and work

The Great North Exhibition must boast one of the largest volunteering campaigns in Newcastle.  Just shy of 1,000 volunteers at the last count in June, it offers a great opportunity to promote Newcastle and Gateshead to the people who live and work here, as well as visitors from across the globe.   Clearly identified in their turquoise T shirts, volunteers are there to help the venues and support the public to get the information they need.  There is so much on offer: art, design, innovation and fun activities for the whole family.

NewcastleGateshead initiative is the lead delivery partner for this special event but there are a number of other organisations involved including: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, BALTIC, Sage Gateshead and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

There are still opportunities to get involved: welcome visitors at locations across the region, provide information and promote the Way Finder app, hand out leaflets, and set people on one of the trails.


There’s something for everyone when they volunteer; keep connected

Volunteering offers a new or different dimension to your life. As you get older you may like to take the opportunity to contribute in a different way. Volunteering has the additional benefit of boosting our local and national economy. You may learn a new skill, gain valuable experience or insight, contribute to a good cause, find new friends or just get out of the house more.

InformationNOW has a series of articles that may help you think about what you want to do to keep connected and volunteering is just one way of doing that. But, there is lots more on InformationNOW.

Please visit InformationNow for more information on:
Finding Friends, Food and friends, Volunteering and Hobbies


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Last updated: September 11, 2018

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