Albert volunteers for the befriending service run by Revival, our sister organisation which provides wellbeing and home improvement services for older and vulnerable people. He spends a couple of hours a week with Mary for a chat and a cuppa. Here Albert talks about why he volunteers, Mary tells us what it means to her, and you can find out how you can help too…
“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Studies and statistics tell us that there are lots of good reasons to volunteer. Learning new skills, helping others, physical and mental health benefits, meeting new people – but for Albert Grech, 71, it all started because he wanted to get out of the house. “Honestly, I was bored. I wanted to volunteer to get myself out and about.”
After working for 44 years as a maintenance fitter at HR Johnson Albert was diagnosed with cancer, “So volunteering was at the back of my mind again but once I was on the road to recovery I started to think about it more and more.”
Albert was shopping in Newcastle one Saturday when he got chatting to one of Revival’s volunteers at one of their volunteer recruitment events. Revival is a part of Staffordshire Housing Group and offers a befriending service to people in the community who are feeling lonely and isolated. Volunteer befrienders are matched with customers and help them in lots of ways – everything from having a cuppa and a chat to going for walks and helping with the shopping.
For Albert it started off as a way to get out of the house for a bit but it ended up being so much more.
Revival matched Albert with Mary Stafford, a customer who doesn’t get out much due to ill health and was feeling really lonely. “She’s a lovely lady and we get on great. There’s just so much to chat about and it makes me happy that I can give my time up to do something for her.”
Mary, 85, lives alone in Tunstall. She has little contact with her family but does sometime see her neighbours.
Albert visits Mary for two hours every week. They have a cuppa and a chat together. “We talk about the rugby and I show her pictures of my garden because she used to love gardening. It’s been lovely getting to know her and learning all about her life.”
For Mary, Albert’s visits have made a huge positive difference in her life. “He’s like a breath of fresh air! We talk about everything and have a good reminisce about the past.”
Many years ago Mary also volunteered by playing the piano at a residential home and helping others with their gardens. “Volunteering is such a worthwhile job – a marvellous job.”
For Albert, volunteering with Mary is so much more now than just getting out of the house – they’ve formed a friendship that they both benefit from.
Revival are now working with AgeUK and local GP surgeries to support more people in the community and are looking to recruit more volunteers like Albert who can spare just a couple of hours a week.
Kerry Ball, Revival’s Befriending Service Manager, said, “Becoming a volunteer is a fantastic opportunity to share your spare time with someone who really just wants to see a friendly face. There are so many people across the city feeling lonely and isolated and our aim is to support as many of these people as we can through our volunteering project.”
Anyone can volunteer, any age from any walk of life. If you’re interested call Revival on 0333 014 3389, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form below.
Revival’s befriending service coordinator will be happy to call or meet you for a no obligation chat. If you then decide that volunteer befriending isn’t for you, that’s fine. But if you like what you hear, Revival will match you with a customer as soon as they can.
So be like Albert (and Martin Luther King) and answer life’s most urgent question– what am I doing for others?