This week we are focusing on our life changing work with retired and older peopleInstead of simply listing all the amazing work we do in this area, we thought we’d introduce the week by asking one of our younger members of staff to sum up why this pillar of work is so important to him, and us.

Jamie joined us in earlier this year to help bring our Sporting Chance project to Sheffield, supported by funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.  Here he tells us about what drew him to Volunteering Matters, and our work for and with retired and older people.

I had, and continue to have, a close relationship with my Grandma.  I’m from a single parent family, a situation that could have been difficult, made easier thanks to the support my grandma provided. She was on hand to help in any way she can – even if it did mean as a child I had my school shoes thrown at me down the school bus because I refused to wear them!

I wanted to work for Volunteering Matters because I like the idea of working for an organisation that is giving back to the community, particularly in a time when things are only becoming more difficult in society.  In particular I wanted to work on an older people’s project like Sporting Chance because of my bond with my Grandma and the positive impact that she had and has on my life.

Sporting Chance values the person, not just seeing them as a statistic or age category. The project  provides opportunities for older people, all too often forgotten about in society, to make positive and healthy changes to their lives and most importantly be happy.   We seek out and invite men aged 50 and over to join (and begin their own) volunteer-led activities – particularly sports based ones. Some of our participants were lonely and isolated, others are at a loose end and bored after bereavement or retirement, collectively all of them are looking for ‘something to do’. Men can simply come in to a session and see what’s on offer or, if they have health concerns, they can access Sporting Chance through the G.P. referral system at their local surgery.

We sometimes hear men say that Sporting Chance is not for them; but often this is before they have even heard what the project is about and how they can benefit. However, once they’ve taken that first step and come along once they see the benefits and they more often than not come back; some even attend on multiple days of the week!

I am delighted that Volunteering Matters are having a week dedicated to their older people’s work – we need to start paying more attention to the older generation. There are so many initiatives that aim to make a difference in the lives of young people, however we sometimes pay less attention to those at the more experienced end of the age scale.  I would love to see a Sporting Chance project in  every town and city across the country, and hope that this Retired and Older People’s Focus Week helps even more people find out about our project, and all the other life changing work Volunteering Matters is doing with Retired and Older People.

All week we’ll be shouting to the rooftops about our work in this area – so keep checking the website and follow #volunteeringmattersforolderpeople on social media to see what we’re up to – and maybe tell other people about it?