In 1963, I was a Police Cadet. As part of my police training, I went to London to join a Community Service Volunteers (now Volunteering Matters) programme. At the time, every police officer was required to do this as part of their training, to give them an awareness of others in the world. Some of my colleagues went to earthquake sites or other major disasters, but I found myself volunteering at Blackfriars Settlement, a community volunteer centre founded in 1887. Blackfriars Settlement dealt with prison after-care projects and work centres for the benefit of elderly and disabled people in the community.
After a long and successful career, I retired and was looking for something to keep me busy. In 2012, my friend told me about the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) with Volunteering Matters, and in particular the handyperson service, which sounded ideal. The handyperson service suited me perfectly – I felt it was important to give something back to the community, and to help people with my skills and experience, and it ticked both of these boxes.
Every week, I volunteer with RSVP Forth Valley’s Handyperson project to complete maintenance jobs for older people who can’t do these things for themselves. This might be tasks such as replacing batteries in smoke alarms, assembling flat pack furniture, changing tap washers, putting up shelves or unblocking sinks. For me these are straightforward jobs, but to an older person without the skills, it really does mean a great deal.
This support enables older people to remain independent and live in their own homes. Part of my volunteer role also includes looking out for health and safety hazards: we try to spot anything that could be a fire risk or a fall risk for older people, and fix it to reduce the risk of accidents in the home.
I get a lot of satisfaction as an RSVP volunteer and I would recommend getting involved. Volunteering Matters to me because of the impact it can have on our community and how it makes such a difference to peoples’ lives. It also gives me the opportunity to keep active and to contribute to my community in retirement.