Impetus, the Brighton and Hove charity helping vulnerable adults who are dealing with loneliness and isolation because of age, disability or poor mental or physical health through befriending, advocacy and support services have released a series of inspiring stories to celebrate the work of their volunteers throughout national Volunteers’ Week (1-12 June).
Through these 12 stories about their volunteers, the work they carry out and the impact they have in the city, Impetus hope to raise awareness about what can be done to help lonely and isolated people.
Impetus run a variety of different volunteering services from befriending schemes to cancer advocacy services and their network of volunteers is the largest in the city and one of the largest in the country.
Across Impetus’ services there are volunteers of all ages and walks of life, from young students to 90-year-old women and from well-known local celebrities to cancer survivors who now provide practical help and support to people living with cancer.
Impetus’ volunteers provide thousands of hours of their time a year to support vulnerable adults who are dealing with loneliness and isolation because of age, disability or poor mental or physical health and these stories are a celebration of this.
To find out more about becoming an Impetus volunteer or to donate to the charity, visit www.bh-impetus.org
Volunteer 1: Sheila Manning- Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme
Sheila Manning is a volunteer with Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme, one of the largest networks of befriending volunteers in the county, and has a fantastic relationship despite a large age difference with Stella Salmon, a Brighton resident who will be 100 this August.
Sheila first volunteered for the charity in 2003. She began volunteering with her husband Jim following a relocation from London to Brighton after they both retired. Shelia had been a teacher when she lived in London.
The Impetus Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS) operates in ten neighbourhoods of Brighton & Hove, embracing about half of the city’s population (c.125,000 people) and Sheila has worked across the city providing practical help, support and friendship to older people in her community.
Sheila first volunteered with a number of clients at Impetus through their award-winning Neighbourhood Care Scheme but her unique story has been her longstanding relationship with Stella Salmon.
Stella was first in touch with Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme in 2001 where she began having visits from a younger volunteer before Sheila started visiting. Stella was 85 when Impetus were first in touch with her, and will be 100 this year.
As a volunteer, Sheila has provided much more than just practical support for Stella. Sheila and Stella have formed a very significant bond together since they were first introduced in 2003.
Originally Sheila just provided social company to Stella as part of her volunteer work in the NCS but this relationship developed over the years and her assistance allowed Stella to venture out more. Over the course of the volunteer work they have struck up a real friendship, starting with Sheila accompanying Stella on trips out to the shops and library together.
They have been seeing each other regularly since then and the relationship formed by the initial pairing of the two women has been hugely positive and made a significant impact on both their lives.
Volunteer 2: Judith Pearson – Impetus’ Cancer Advocacy Service
Impetus’ Cancer Advocacy is a new service providing independent advocacy to adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems, autism, and older people who are affected by cancer in association with Macmillan.
Judith was the first Impetus volunteer to be matched with a client using the advocacy service when the project launched in July 2015. Her work sees her supporting clients who are affected by cancer in a variety of vital ways including health-related issues, cancer-related issues and significantly, any number of life issues a client may face.
With one particular, client Judith was assisting with a number of key aspects of their recovery and realised that the client had no central heating. Alongside her usual support work with the client, Judith liaised with the Housing Association and was able to secure all the relevant funding and paperwork to install vital heating in this person’s home in time for winter.
Judith’s work with Impetus’ Cancer Advocacy clients is very special because Judith herself was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and so has been through all of the things the clients are struggling with. Her ability to empathise with the clients and provide personal support has been essential for some of the clients she has worked with.
A large number of people affected by cancer suffer from anxiety and depression but are not prepared for how to deal with it in their conventional treatment so having someone like Judith volunteering has been key for Impetus’ clients. Judith is fantastic at explaining that anyone can feel these emotions while going through this life-changing disease. She has been vitally important for all of the clients she works with, especially those suffering with mental health conditions too, as Judith is so great at reassuring people about their circumstances as a result of having been through a lot of the same changes they are going through. Judith has helped a number of people who initially felt they were coping badly and shown them that with support and the right practical help, anyone can overcome the negative impact cancer has on how we all feel.
Guy Lloyd works with Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme and though this visits an elderly gentlemen in the Hollingbury area, once a week. The visits usually mean the two men meet up on the weekend but it’s fairly flexible, according to what else each of them are doing.
Guy worked with the elderly before his current career and really missed it. He finds the impact it makes on both parties a very humbling and grounding experience.
Guy works with an 87-year-old gentleman who is quite mobile for his age but has become increasingly lonely since his wife died several years ago. On his volunteering visits, they both enjoy having long conversations about all manner of things such as life and the local area and both men really enjoy these discussions and each others company. Guy is currently arranging for the man he volunteers with to become part of a social club in the local area, so hopefully he is less lonely during the week and can enjoy more discussions and meet new friends.
Guy explained: “I really enjoy talking to someone who has lived a full life and it’s great that we both have a good relationship. I know he enjoys talking to me too, which makes me feel I’m making a difference to his life.”
Volunteer 4: Lorraine Fifer – Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme
Lorraine was originally involved with NCS as a scheme member, as she had been unwell. As she recovered she offered to volunteer in the office. For the last four years, Lorraine has played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in NCS, inputting the huge amounts of data we have to process – surveys, volunteer quarterly reports, equalities forms, etc.
Without Lorraine’s efforts, we would know a lot less about what we do at NCS.
Lorraine said: “I really enjoy coming into the office. Over the years, I feel that I’ve become part of the team. It’s good to have something useful to do.”
Lorraine provides support in the offices of the NCS assisting staff, volunteers and completing vital administrative work which ensures the NCS keeps providing practical help, support and friendship to people in the community.
Volunteer 5: David Huyton – Impetus’ Central Team
David is a VAT advisor and provides his professional skills to Impetus on a pro bono basis. He works with the charity’s Finance Manager and Treasurer to ensure they are VAT compliant, they keep the taxman happy, and they can run their social business in the most efficient way.
David’s professional skills are invaluable to Impetus, they help them understand a really important area of financial management which is quite new to the charity. David giving his professional skills to Impetus on a pro bono basis gives them access to quality advice that otherwise they could not afford to pay for, and this makes a huge difference to the organisation.
David volunteers within the central team at Impetus, working alongside paid staff and unpaid Trustees.
He said: “I have had a very rewarding professional career which has provided me with a good life. However, I am conscious that there are others in our community who are less advantaged and need help. As such I feel that I should use the skills I have learned in my business career to give something back to the local community. Impetus helps the less advantaged people in our community and by assisting Impetus I feel that I am helping them help others in the Brighton and Hove area.”
Volunteer 6: Zoe Lyons – Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme
Zoe Lyons got to know about the NCS through a community Awards Evening in Brighton that she was asked to host. Zoe was so impressed by all the hard work that ordinary members of the community were doing to make the lives of others better that she decided to volunteer. For the past 10 months she has made weekly visits to a very elderly gentleman in his mid 90s that lives in the area.
Zoe is not only an NCS scheme member in the community, she has also spent time volunteering in the Impetus office for the last four years doing really helpful database tasks that help the charity with monitoring & reporting the volunteers impact.
Zoe said: “Being a volunteer has really made me consider the lives of those who struggle to do day to day things either through age, disability or mental health issues. There are so many people who are living behind closed doors.”
Zoe has been visiting a 94-year-old man since June last year and her approach is “very nice” and “excellent” according to him.
Zoe explains: “The person I visit is really quite remarkable, he is now house bound because of his age, he is in his mid 90’s. Despite this he is still very capable and interested in the outside world. He was quite adventurous when he was younger and more able and we have quite a few shared interests including skiing and travel. He occasionally asks me to get him some things from the shops but mostly we just have a lovely chat once a week and last summer we hired a wheel chair and took a few spins down the promenade, a place he used to like to roller blade until at the age of 78 he decided to give it up!”
Both Nellie and Lucy were only 14 and 15 respectively when they started with the Neighbourhood Care Scheme as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteering with elderly residents across the city.
However, they have both continued their visiting beyond the time required for the Award. In January, the lady they visited died, and they now visit another woman in Kemptown. Impetus’ younger volunteers visit in pairs for safety but despite their youth, they can display as much maturity and responsibility as volunteers much older than them.
Nellie says of her volunteering: “It gives you an insight into someone else’s life and stops you thinking about yourself.”
While Lucy says: “It opens your eyes to a completely different way of life and teaches you compassion for other people.”
Volunteer 8: Jason Eade – Impetus’ Better Futures Service
Jason, 26-years-old, was supported by Impetus’ Better Futures service to find and get started in the role of Front of House volunteer at the visual arts organisation and art gallery, Fabrica. Due to having an autistic spectrum disorder, Jason found meeting new people difficult. However, he was able to share knowledge about the art exhibitions with groups of visitors and was praised for his warm and positive impression.
As well as developing confidence within the role it has also been apparent that his social confidence has increased through being at Fabrica. Jason has not only developed positive relationships with other volunteers but has also had the confidence to take part in art workshops, trips and other activities facilitated by Fabrica without requiring support.
Jason volunteers at the Fabrica gallery and works with artists, other volunteers and members of the public at the venue.
Elin Karlsson, Fabrica Volunteer Coordinator said: “It really seems like volunteering here has been a positive experience for Jason and he is a leading example for other volunteers on how to interact with the public, talking to groups and adapting to new situations.”
85-year-old Bunty is a volunteer Community Navigator who supports people to take up services and activities they need and want. This can be anything from helping someone get out more and meet new people, to arranging an advocate or advisor. Navigators find and give people the information they need and help them access the right services and groups.
Our longest-standing Community Navigator, Bunty has seen over 100 clients since starting in October 2014. Bunty has always been enthusiastic, dedicated and willing to go above and beyond, and even received a Rotary Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Brighton in December 2015.
The Community Navigation team is recruiting between June-August 2016 to expand its team of Navigators like Bunty. To join the team or find out more at: www.bh-impetus.org/navigation
Adults with issues around social isolation, mental health, finances, housing and more; needing information, advice, guidance and support to access community-based activities and services.
Volunteer 10: Sue Seymour – Impetus’ Lay Assessors Scheme
Sue’s role is interviewing people who receive home care to assess their satisfaction with the service. She has also contributed to the City Council’s Commissioning Process for home care, helps to train new Lay Assessors, and has attended many council courses on working with older people and those with disabilities.
Sue is special not only as a committed LAS volunteer for seven years but also for her volunteering work with NCS and Healthwatch while managing a busy family life!
Sue visits people who receive home care in Brighton & Hove and talks to them in their own homes about the home care they receive on a day to day basis. The work is rewarding as Lay Assessors play an important part in the lives of the people they help and the quality of care home provision across the city.
Volunteer 11: Sheila Wood – Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme
Sheila is a long serving volunteer who began volunteering with NCS in 2003, following the death of her husband.
Sheila visited her first lady, Jacky (not her real name), for six years following her from sheltered housing to her care home. Sheila helped her with dealing with social services and the Department of Work & Pensions. In the care home, she was one of Jacky’s very few visitors and kept a sharp eye on the quality of her care.
Sheila has been visiting her current scheme member, a 92-year-old lady living in residential care, for six years. Like her previous volunteering work, Sheila has been providing practical help to Stella from when she lived in her own home through to her move into residential care. Stella’s enquiring mind and sharp wit keep Sheila on her toes.
Sheila explained: “It’s a challenge to enter a new person’s life but with a ‘let’s see what we both like and know’, it very quickly becomes a happy friendship.”
Volunteer 12: Ian Snoxell – Impetus’ central team
Ian is Impetus’ Volunteer Receptionist. He is responsible for answering the door and welcoming visitors, helping with mail outs and franking, and other office tasks such as shredding. Ian also supports other volunteers with additional support needs who volunteer their time at Impetus.
Ian is very kind and thoughtful, and his contribution to Impetus’ office helps hold the team together, helps the volunteers look out for each other, and reminds everyone why they’re all here!
At the moment, Ian supports Harriet; a student from St Johns’ College, a local special educational needs school and college.
Ian said: “I came here to find voluntary work experience. I’d been volunteering in a shop before, but it was very boring and I wanted to get some office experience. When Impetus said there was a Volunteer Receptionist role available, I thought I’d have a go at it. I’m much happier here than I was before. Next year is a special year for me – my 10th anniversary!”
To find out more about becoming an Impetus volunteer or to donate to the charity, visit www.bh-impetus.org