North Tyneside’s Volunteering Centre is looking for local people aged 50 and over to get involved in a short-term volunteering project to really make a difference in their local community.
Friends of North Tyneside is a 12-week programme which offers volunteers the chance to use their skills and experiences working in teams to benefit either pre-school children, young adults or older and isolated residents in the borough. By volunteering two days a week for three months, participants join fellow volunteers to plan and deliver a range of sessions and activities that will have a positive impact on people in the local area.
The project launched in September and currently has two projects underway. Volunteers on the Pathways to Employment project are working with young people to get them more prepared for work by supporting them with CV building, interview skills and attending a range of creative and enterprise workshops, while the Making Christmas Special volunteers are running a series of visits and events to help older and isolated residents feel special over the holiday period. As well as making Christmas crafts and collecting donations of gifts, the team are encouraging residents who may be alone on Christmas Day to come along to one of four community centres in the borough and enjoy Christmas lunch with others.
Lilian Atkins from North Shields is thoroughly enjoying the programme, having joined the Making Christmas Special team in October.
“I live in sheltered accommodation and saw the Friends of North Tyneside programme advertised on a poster in the laundry room. I wasn’t sure at first but my granddaughter persuaded me to give it a go and I’m glad she did. I lost my husband three years ago and most of my family live away from the North East now so I found myself with some time on my hands. I also liked the idea of meeting new people and doing something caring – I cared for my husband so that comes naturally to me. Although I was apprehensive when I first came along, everybody here – the staff and other volunteers – are so friendly I felt comfortable in no time at all. I love crafts – I’m always knitting – so the Making Christmas Special project really appealed to me. It’s been great fun so far, we’ve made sock snowmen and peg angels and we visited a nursing home in Wallsend to chat to some of the residents about their memories of Christmas recently – that was a lovely thing to do. I’m really enjoying the programme and I’ll actually be sorry when it finishes.”
VODA’s Volunteer Centre Manager, Ian Dodds, explains more about the project: “There are so many benefits to taking part in a volunteering programme such as this. It’s not a long-term commitment, it’s a time-limited project and the volunteers will get to see the real results of their participation at the end of their projects. Plus it’s a fantastic way to meet new people, take on new challenges and have some fun! We know that people in this age bracket have a lot to give in terms of their skills, experience and knowledge. We want to really harness that and put it to good use to help solve issues in the community such as social isolation and getting young people ready for work.”
The next Friends of North Tyneside programme begins in January 2018 with a fun and interactive taster session taking place mid-January at the Cedarwood Trust in North Shields to give anyone interested in taking part more information about the project and have a go at some of the activities they might be involved in. For more information on dates or to register an interest in becoming a Friend of North Tyneside, contact VODA on 0191 643 2626 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.