Volunteers come from all walks of life and all have something to offer. Some carers and former carers also volunteer.
Not long after I retired, during covid, I realised I had some time on my hands.
I like to keep fit and spending time with my mum (who is in her 90s!!). So, after going to the gym and being a lady who lunched, someone suggested volunteering and a friend of a friend mentioned Carers in Beds.
My career had involved a lot of sitting at a screen but the highlights were always meeting people.
That’s what I am loving about helping at the Saturday Social. I am getting to know a few of the regulars who have time for a chat while I am taking their treatment fees. I have also been at a couple of events as an ambassador.
I think I am becoming a better listener.
Being a volunteer with Carers in Beds has given me an opportunity to gain a different perspective on society from my working career, broadened my understanding of some of its issues and exposed me to different challenges.
Sharon, giving out leaflets and seed packs at Bedford train station for Carers Week
Meet Stephanie – you can already tell by her sunny smile that she radiates warmth and kindness. She cares for her young daughter and is a member of her local Biggleswade Parents Together group. She now volunteers to help the support worker at another of our parents’ group.
It supports my own mental health to help other people. I’m usually the one to step in to do someone’s shopping or when a mum is pulling her hair out because she has forgotten the baby wipes. I feel a sense of gratification and warmth and am thankful that I am able to give back to society for all the kindness I have been shown.
Stephanie, parent carer and volunteer
Sandra came to us during a pause in lockdown in August 2020, interested in signing up as an early response volunteer. She had worked for a welfare charity in London and not long moved to Bedford. As well as being a good use of her skills, volunteering could also help her find her feet in the town.
A couple of months later she had swung into action, and looked completely at home, coming in once a week to make calls to carers. Soon after, she successfully applied for one of our paid sessional worker activity roles. Then fast forward to September 2021, when Sandra was appointed from a raft of candidates as our very first mental health carer link worker.
Sandra starting out as an Early Response volunteer
Peter volunteered previously for CAB after taking early retirement. Another volunteer suggested his skills and friendly approach would be useful to us. He calls people who are signed up to the Memory Navigation service for a catch up and to signpost them to services, offer information, support and listen.
“I thoroughly enjoy speaking to carers on the telephone. They are all very appreciative of the call and that CIB is genuinely interested in their wellbeing and how we may be able to help”
Peter, doing a stint for the dementia team
Lynn, carer and volunteer
Keren joined our team of ambassadors who connect within their local communities to reach carers. She’s one of the friendly faces at local events who will tell carers about support for them from Carers in Bedfordshire. As a carer herself, she knows that people can struggle on their own and face isolation which harms their own well-being.
“I’d been with Carers in Beds for about 20 years. I care for 3 people – my partner and two of my children.
I decided to volunteer because I just felt in a better place. I had been volunteering at a special needs school for a while. Although my children are now adults and working, they still need more help”.
“While caring for my wife for over 10 years, we both received much advice and support from Carers in Bedfordshire. After she moved into nursing care, I wanted to volunteer to give something back but wasn’t sure how. Making tea and coffee at the cafés maybe?
“I let slip I was used to public speaking and giving presentations at work. I also still lead church services and have preached many a sermon! So I soon found myself as a volunteer ambassador. I’ve spoken to lunch clubs, neighbourhood groups, patient and rehabilitation groups, other local charities and a few healthcare professional groups. As an introduction I share a little of my experiences as a long term carer, from when I didn’t even know I was a carer, through to becoming 24/7 hands-on. A little humour helps make things lighter for the audience.”
Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”