The possibilities are endless!
If you would like to get to know and spend time with the residents, then many will enjoy simply seeing new faces and chatting with someone who has time to listen and make friends. You might also be surprised about how much you get out of it. As one of our volunteers put it:
I would recommend volunteering to anyone that is thinking about it. I get so much from visiting, the stories I hear are amazing. I have made so many new friends!Amy Baker, Heybridge
Perhaps you have an interest or an area of expertise that you would like to share. One resident we know, for example, loves water colour painting, but had no-one to enjoy her hobby with her. Then we found a sixth former in a local school who also loved painting. They became great friends. Another volunteer who loves classical music runs an occasional music groups with like minded residents who take it in turns to suggest a piece for the group to hear. A third helps residents who want to learn to use skype and e mail to keep in touch with their far flung families. And there’s one resident we know who loves writing stories, but has to record them now as he finds it hard to write. Could you help transcribe his recordings for him?
Maybe you could offer occasional help to run events and outings? When staff have their hands full caring for residents, a helping hand with the practicalities is invaluable.
If you a business owner or manager, perhaps you could encourage your staff to help with specific projects or sponsor one yourself? We know one garden centre that gives great support to residents who always loved gardening, but need a bit of help to carry on.
And if you are a teacher, or run a youth group, then there are any number of ways for the young people to get involved. Visits from young people are always popular and the young people themselves get so much out of it. There is good evidence to show how their self esteem, self confidence and communication skills can benefit. We know one Scout Troop whose members are getting a lot of help with their badges from local care home residents. Then there’s the school that teamed up with a care home for a local history project; another that had students working with residents on photography projects and yet another where students and residents worked together to design and create a mural for a blank wall. Activities can be arranged to fulfil many aspects of the National Curriculum and many residents love to work alongside the young people, doing something productive and having fun in the process.
And what if you don’t want to work directly with older people? Perhaps you have expertise to share with managers and staff. There’s one care home we know where residents run a shop in the home so that the people living there can buy their own toiletries and other items. Do you have retail experience? Could you advise?
Or could you act as the link between your organisation or business and a local care home? Could you help the staff to maintain the contact, acting as their contact person and helping to build a fruitful relationship?
Could you help us to train and/or support other FaNs volunteers?
Last but not least, could you help to build and maintain the FaNs network itself as our local contact and co-ordinator? Could you pull together information or write articles for our newsletters?
These are just a few examples of the way the FaNs can help. What could you bring to the party?
If you would like more information about local FaNs networks, would like to get involved, or have ideas to share, please contact our FaNs Programme Manager