New Guild Care service aims to reduce loneliness in Worthing area

Tuesday was the first day of Volunteers’ Week, a week during which our country celebrates the amazing positive impact that volunteers have.

So, firstly, I wanted to give my thanks to everyone that gives their time to Guild Care as a volunteer.

If I had to describe you in just three words, I’d have to say either ‘absolutely blimming amazing’ or ‘heart-warming heroes’!

Without you giving your time, we wouldn’t be able to offer the support that we do.

A volunteer at one of Guild Care's charity shops

In fact, if it wasn’t for volunteers, there wouldn’t even be a Guild Care in the first place. It was actually founded by a group of dedicated volunteers in 1933 under the name Worthing Council of Social Service.

I think it’s also important to point out during this week of celebration that volunteering isn’t a one-way street; volunteering also brings a lot of benefits to those giving their time.

For example, we recently sent a survey out to all our volunteers, one of the questions of which was what benefits they had taken from volunteering.

Responses included: ‘Meeting people. Making friends’; ‘Giving something back to the community’; ‘Keeps me active’; ‘Spending time with residents and listening to their stories’; and ‘Helping to make a difference for those needing support’.

Lisa Howard, volunteer coordinator at Guild Care

For a bit of background, I started as volunteer coordinator at Guild Care in January.

I was drawn to the job as I have always been motivated by helping others and like to feel that I’m making a difference. What industry offers that more than a charity?

Due to Covid, I haven’t been able to get into our services and personally meet as many of our existing volunteers as I would have liked.

However, my favourite thing has been meeting our new volunteer applicants and hearing their stories about why they are volunteering.

With the world moving towards a happier ‘new normal’, I’m excited about soon being able to pop into the services and exploring the new ways our community will be able to help.

For example, in July we will be launching Creating Connections, a new and exciting service for those aged 65 and over.

It will aim to reduce loneliness and isolation in Worthing through companionship, shared interests, and community participation.

Specifically, the service will provide a volunteer-led range of Worthing based meetings and activities.

These will include one-to-one befriending, weekly face-to-face activities, monthly social events, and a virtual Friendship Club that people can access from their own homes.

We are currently looking for three types of volunteers to help make Creating Connections possible: one-to-one befrienders, meet and greeters, and small group leaders.

One-to-one befrienders will help the service’s members connect with others through weekly telephone contact or companionship visits.

Meet and greeters will welcome people taking part in group activity sessions, including serving refreshments and keeping an attendance register.

Small group leaders will coordinate activity sessions, enabling people to feel at home and engage with their chosen activities.

If any of these volunteer roles are of interest to you or you just have some questions, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at [email protected]