Jilly Collins - The Abbeyfield Wessex Society

Creating and Strengthening Community Links to Help Recruit Volunteers

With the help of volunteers we can enhance our residents’ lives, reduce loneliness and isolation and increase independence and enjoyment of life.  

nationwide volunteers help at abbeyfield

Volunteers enable us to do more for older people and we celebrate and thank those that generously give their time and money, share their skills, and offer practical and emotional support to our residents.

Jilly Collins has been with Abbeyfield for 8 years but has only recently taken on the new role of Marketing, Activities and Volunteering Coordinator for the Abbeyfield Wessex Society. This is a busy role that covers the seven houses that the society own and includes filling house voids as well as recruiting and managing volunteers.

All seven houses have volunteers who visit and help enrich the residents’ lives but the number of these volunteers has been declining over the years due to their increasing age. The Wessex Society recognises this as an urgent issue that needs addressing. They also know the importance to have a current 21st century approach to volunteering to encourage new and different types of volunteers into Abbeyfield.

“I have been busy creating and strengthening our community links and with the help of the BCVS (Bournemouth Council for Voluntary Service) we are filling our houses with volunteers”

NCS volunteering with AbbeyfieldBournemouth and Poole are large, busy towns which can make it difficult to find that sense of community and with the competition for volunteers being extremely high, Jilly certainly has had her work cut out.

Linking in with BCVS seems to have been a great success and the Wessex Society is regularly included in the Bournemouth and Poole Volunteers Vacancies Newsletter. They have also been involved in numerous volunteering pop-up shops and along with their mascot dog Panda they have supplied information on volunteer openings across the houses.

The National Citizen Service 2016 Summer Programme has been in touch which will mean large groups of young volunteers will be joining the houses over the summer to help with projects.

Connections with local companies have also been made and this is a great way to provided volunteers for new projects and one off events. Liverpool Victoria has recently supplied a design team of twenty volunteers who will be supplying all materials and re-dressing the dining room at Westbourne House.

puppy with residents volunteering at abbeyfield

“Working with our corporate volunteers from national companies has brought huge benefits to our houses."

"We have had one-to-one’s with the residents on iPad training, coffee mornings and open days. We also have garden makeover and maintenance dates in the diary.”

At no point can volunteers be taken for granted and we can see that the Abbeyfield Wessex Society is truly committed to the value of their volunteers. So much so, Jo, a volunteer at Westbourne House, was recently put forward for and received a Mayor’s Award for her 20 years of service to Abbeyfield. An afternoon tea and sing-along was organised in her honour.

Recruiting new volunteers is extremely important but we know it goes hand in hand with managing and retaining existing volunteers. It is the ongoing support of volunteers and our sense of community at Abbeyfield that helps us to maintain good volunteer numbers.

 

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