As well as delivering approximately 25,000 meals on wheels every year, the GVS also offers a bathing service (at its Russels Day Centre), and hairdressing at both of its day centres, where older members of the community can receive a warm welcome, enjoy good food, activities and company.
However, the effects of lockdown have been felt by the organisation and a drive to attract more volunteers plus new clients is under way.
‘A lot of our clients have, sadly, become frailer and therefore are no longer able to attend the day centre, so our numbers have dropped,’ she said. ‘We know there are people out there who feel isolated who could come to our day centres, the Russels in St Martin’s and the Jubilee in St Sampson’s.
Also, for families that are looking after elderly parents, they may like to have a day off for themselves while we look after their parents.
The only criteria is that we are not carers. So, clients who attend either day centre must be mobile and able to look after themselves.’
When it comes to volunteers, Mandy said that, with the borders opening again, they are losing volunteers who are going away to visit family and friends.
‘We could lose them for a couple of weeks or a month, depending on travel restrictions and whether they have to isolate on their return.
‘We’re primarily looking for volunteers that can come and help us at our day centres. We have some volunteers that start at around 9am, who meet and greet clients and serve them their morning refreshments.
They help serve the pre-luncheon sherry – which we provide because it aids digestion – plus help with lunch.
The food is made up at the hospital then it’s all reheated in special ovens. The volunteers serve up the lunches then clear up everything afterwards.
‘Then in the afternoons, we have another two volunteers that come in at around 2pm to serve tea, coffee and cake. The clients go home at three o’clock, then the two volunteers clear up then leave. We welcome all enquiries from people, they can volunteer for as little or as much time as they are able.’
Mandy explained that they are also looking for volunteer drivers. There are two sorts of drivers – those who use their own car to pick up and drop off clients and those who can drive a minibus.
For those who worry about having the required category on their driving licence, there is an eight-seater minibus that can be operated with a standard driver’s licence, but a D1 category is required to drive the 12-seater bus. Each driver is paired with an escort who accompanies the clients to their front door.
‘If you can help for one day or week, or a morning, or an afternoon, or just once a fortnight, then we can slot you in,’ she said. ‘We are also looking for drivers for meals on wheels as we deliver six days a week.
Each day there are four teams, so it’s a lot of people. Some people volunteer once a week, others once a month. If people are interested, we’d welcome them to come and talk to us.’
The GVS is also appealing to companies to help with volunteers. It already benefits from Trust Corporation, which supplies two staff members for an hour a week to help serve lunches at the Russels Day Centre.
‘It works really well for a company’s corporate social responsibility,’ said Mandy.
The GVS is also looking for help in its hairdressing salons and to do clients’ nails.
All volunteers need a standard police check (or an enhanced one if volunteering as a bathing assistant), which the GVS will help with.
Further information is on the GVS website.