Long serving WiSE volunteer reflects on 20 year milestone

One of Wetherby in Support of the Elderly’s (WiSE) longest serving volunteers has hailed its impact on older people’s lives, as the organisation prepares to mark its 20 year anniversary.

Beryl Hughes, from Harrogate has volunteered for WiSE for 18 years.

Here, she reflects on the charity’s growth to meet an increasing demand for its services- as well as the joy she has gained volunteering at its broad range of activities and events.

“I started my volunteering journey with WiSE around 18 years ago, which was a result of a dear friend’s husband’s dementia diagnosis. I attended a training session in Collingham to find out more about the disease, which led to the Sunshine Café- for people living with dementia and their carers- being formed. Due to its success, a similar event was formed in Boston Spa – The Boston Spa Tea Party- which I also attended.

“Over the years more events were brought in to help reduce isolation and loneliness in the over 60s, from singalong sessions and music entertainment, to fish and chip lunches and sitting exercise classes. 

“Since the beginning, I have seen WiSE grow exponentially – there is a bigger variety of activities and the wider spread of geographical areas has given people more opportunities to get involved.

“There’s so many opportunities for volunteering with WiSE – all which are all different and require a different set of skills. I love volunteering at the Welcome Café – I am interested in the number of new people dropping in and like to welcome them and signposting other activities.

“The weekly craft session is a different vibe completely. The group is well established with the same clients attending each week, so I’m able to get to know them on a more personal level and be able to offer advice for any problems they may be facing in their lives. I also volunteer at Line Dancing, the Tea Dance and Elderberries, plus many of the one-off events.

“Choosing my favourite activity is difficult as they are all varied, but I must admit that although the most physically demanding, the teamwork needed at the Welcome Café as we prepare and serve the food and drink is very rewarding.

“Far be it for me to give the impression that volunteering is all about giving. I have gained so much myself over the years, having made many friends with the volunteers and clients. It has just become what I do during the week, and I would recommend to anyone with time to spare to take on such a fulfilling role. Since being widowed, WiSE has also become a lifeline for me helping to fill an enormous gap in my life.

“WiSE has changed the lives of so many people, giving them the opportunity to meet and talk to others in comfortable and safe surroundings. I am proud to be part of that ethos.”

If you are interested in volunteering and would like to find out more, phone 01937 588994, or email volunteering@w-ise.org.uk. The main services where volunteers may be needed are Befriending, Memory Café, WiSE Owl Café, Transport Scheme, Activities and Events. Visit www.w-ise.org.uk for more information.

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