The past two months have been trying for the whole community. And charities such as Link Age Southwark have had to step up to a whole new level while serving the needs of our older people. With the social distancing rules in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have had to suspend their over 20 groups and converted face to face befriending relationships to telephone befriending.
Fortunately, with their amazing army of volunteers, they have risen to the challenge and have succeeded in reaching out to even more older people, having set up over 40 new matches on top of their 160 existing ones.
Their group volunteers and tutors have been heroes too, keeping up their activities with group members, conducting chats, singing and exercise over the telephone and Zoom. Link Age Southwark has also set up a shopping service for the first time for people who are completely isolated. More plans are in place including setting up conference calls with groups of older people. Living their ‘can do’ value has never been so evident!
While these measures are no substitute for the human contact that Link Age Southwark’s usual services bring, they have been able to enjoy the good news that they have been awarded Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard, recognising the excellent experience they provide volunteers.
“We are delighted to share this news at this time – we all need a boost! Achieving this award is testament to the dedication of our team to involve volunteers and provide them the best possible volunteering experience we can”, says Sophie Wellings, director of Link Age Southwark. “And our volunteers nothing less, with their dedication to helping the older people in our community to ensure that they are not isolated and lonely, particularly at this time”.
Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the UK quality standard for excellence in volunteer management. IiV aims to improve the quality of the volunteering experience for all volunteers and for organisations to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by volunteers. IiV is managed by the UK Volunteering Forum and delivered by National Council of Volunteer Organisations (NCVO).
Link Age Southwark was assessed against a range of best practice standards and proved to excel in all aspects of working with their volunteers. This has been well tested during the past two months with the increase in volunteer recruitment they have experienced.
If you are interested in hearing more about volunteering with Link Age Southwark, visit www.linkagesouthwark.org/why-volunteer or call the team on 020 8299 2623 (voicemail is being constantly monitored at this time).
This article first appeared in the June issue of SE22.