Helping older people away from loneliness
As we mark Volunteers’ Week, running 1-7June, we’re sharing stories from Octopus volunteers, showing the impact of our work within local communities. From helping people and organisations, to creating a feelgood factor for volunteers, it can be positive for everyone involved.
Volunteers are much needed right now. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has seen many charities becoming disconnected from their communities just when they need support. For example, loneliness is an ongoing challenge for older people. The pandemic has made an already difficult situation worse, with many becoming very isolated.
Supporting Painting Our World in Silver
Henry McPherson, an operations associate at Octopus, is more aware of this issue than most. His mother runs a charity, Painting Our World in Silver, which aims to fight loneliness in older people. Since 2016 it has been doing great work, bringing people together for creative activities.
After lockdown began, Henry decided to volunteer for the charity and join his mother in her work. He explains: “Painting Our World in Silver is really important to me as a family charity founded by my Mum. Also, having an elderly grandmother who is widowed and often feels isolated, I am very proud to be able to help others in a similar situation if I can.”
Overcoming loneliness in lockdown
Usually, Painting Our World in Silver hosts monthly social events in Surrey for its community. However due to the lockdown, these were put on hold. Instead, the charity has come up with a new way to keep connections.
Working remotely, the team has created craft care packages. It has then worked with Age UK and Age Concern to help deliver these alongside food parcels. The charity has also secured an £8,000 grant from the National Lottery. This is helping it ramp up the number of care packages it can order supplies for, make and send out. To date, Painting Our World in Silver has delivered over 1000 packages to those who are vulnerable or in isolation.
Making connections through volunteering
Henry has devoted his volunteer hours to unpacking thousands of craft supplies and making care packages. He has also made deliveries to Age UK distribution hubs and set up a JustGiving page for the charity.
For Henry, volunteering has been very rewarding, providing a way to connect with the charity’s community and his own family. He says: “The feedback from Age UK and the recipients has been amazing. I really believe that our packages will make a difference, whether as an activity to distract people from all this uncertainty, or simply as a reminder that they’re not alone.”