‘It’s just so worthwhile’ – that was the most common answer when I asked Age UK Oxfordshire volunteers why they choose to devote their time to the Banbury branch of the charity.
It was a cold and rainy Thursday morning when I arrived at Age UK Oxfordshire’s Banbury centre in White Lion Walk, but the welcome could not have been warmer.
Having written several articles about the charity’s Today! campaign, which was launched in May to raise vital funds and awareness, I thought it was time to see what volunteering was about.
Although unassuming from the outside, contained within the four walls of the red brick building in White Lion Walk is a hive of activity incorporating everything from a friendly café with affordable refreshments to IT lessons and Phone Friends; a service which reaches the most isolated of our community’s residents. But the key to this operation is the volunteers – the bees who keep this hive busy.
On first glance it would seem they do it without getting anything in return, but it is soon clear to me there is ample reward to be found here.
Phone Friends volunteer Julie Prior explained: “I’ve gained a lot of confidence since I started volunteering. I just love talking to people and you end up making a lot of friends, both among those you call but also with the team members.
“I would definitely recommend volunteering and, especially now with winter coming up, it’s nice for me to have something to look forward to when you get up in the morning.”
Centre volunteer Jenny Gough added: “Volunteering lets you get in touch with some very interesting people.
“It’s also really rewarding when someone says ‘thank you, that’s helped a lot’. It’s nice to think you’ve actually helped somebody.”
The charity is constantly on the look out for more dedicated volunteers. To find out more, call the Banbury centre on 01295 278040 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/oxfordshire
And it is clear from the happy atmosphere at the centre volunteering is indeed very worthwhile.
Yolanda Tapping, who volunteers in the café every week, said: “It’s no hardship and it’s not rocket science. It’s just a lovely atmosphere; I don’t have to be here, I choose to be here and you get so much in return. All the volunteers know they’re needed and appreciated.”