This week is Volunteers Week and we’d like to thank all of the volunteers who make our work possible. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to run services such as our Here to Talk befriending service.
Many of our volunteers are carers themselves, or former carers, who have an understanding of what it’s like to look after someone and who are motivated to provide support to those who value it.
Quentin Goggs is one of our volunteers who provides support to carers through our Here to Talk service. When he is partnered with someone he provides a weekly or fortnightly phone call to them, talking about anything the carer would like to. Quentin has a long career in volunteering, including with the Samaritans.
He says: “My first time as a volunteer was selling Christmas cards in the Oxfam shop near Oxford Circus. All the cards were different prices and there was no till. The mental arithmetic was almost impossible and one just hoped that the ‘overs’ approximated to the ‘unders’.
“At about the same time I started as one of the Samaritans. The Rev’d Chad Varah had just set them up in the basement of his City church of St Stephens in Walbrook next to the Mansion House in London. I used to go there at 6 o’clock after work and do the overnight shift. My number there was 969, so I was one of the first 1,000 Sams. Calls came through until about 1.30am and then re-started at about 5 or just after. So not a lot of sleep; but such a difference between each call. It was that that made it interesting.
“After six months I was asked to join what was then known as the Emergency Squad. One stayed by the phone in one’s flat for that evening/night and if there was a situation where the Samaritan taking the call in St Stephens felt that attention was needed on the spot he would ring your number and you had to drive out to the address almost anywhere in central London and deal with whatever you found. An A – Z was essential! It was long before sat navs.
“Health professionals nowadays would have twenty fits at amateurs being asked to deal with such situations, and the service was stopped soon after I left. But for those doing it at the time it was both stimulating and sad – stimulating because you had to rise to whatever the occasion demanded, and sad because the occasion had arisen at all.
“Now at an advanced age, finding people that want or need you is more difficult. Here to Talk is a cause I feel I can contribute to. It is all done over the phone and I feel life has trained me to become a good listener. My second ‘job’ is as a Floor Guide in Salisbury Cathedral.
“Enthusing others about the wonder of that building is always easy; and not only do you meet those you show round but you are one of a team of people with similar interests who become close friends too.
“The joy of volunteering is the giving up of some of your time either to help people directly or furthering a cause that will. Through doing so, you meet others with the same thought. You have that in common and through working together you will likely become good friends.”
The theme for this year’s Volunteers Week is ‘Celebrate and Inspire’ and the week aims to highlight diversity in volunteering and demonstrate the many ways people can get involved in volunteering.
While many older people may find they have a little more time to volunteer, volunteering can be helpful for those of working age too – helping you to develop new skills as well as contribute to a good cause and meet others.
We will often advertise specific roles on our website, but if you have a particular skill or skill you are hoping to develop we’d love to hear from you. We have volunteer photographers, admin support staff and many more. You can find out more on our volunteering page.