This year, we hosted our first Volunteer Awards, which took place during our AGM. We were delighted to highlight the work of our incredible volunteers, who are vital in helping us to achieve our mission to help older people stay connected with their communities. As an organisation, we rely on volunteers to deliver our services and provide one-to-one support to help older people thrive, and alleviate loneliness and isolation. They are central to the work we do and are truly fantastic advocates for our charity.

We enlisted the help of our older friends and staff who nominated a total of 30 volunteers for their outstanding dedication and kindness. After many long discussions and plenty of tea, our judging panel of staff members carefully selected the winners. Our Volunteer Awards consisted of 7 Star categories covering our key volunteer roles, and an additional 2 Super Star Awards; because for some of our volunteers, a single category doesn’t quite cover everything they do to support us. They are listed, along with the deserving winners below:

Star Befriending Volunteer – Agata 

Befriending is at the heart of our services and we work hard to create meaningful matches. It’s not always easy to establish a relationship with a stranger. It takes a combination of kindness, understanding and patience to develop a friendship – something that comes naturally to Agata.

Agata’s nomination stated, “Agata is incredibly caring and goes the extra mile with her befriendee, adapting her visits as her befriendee's dementia has progressed.  She is always looking for new ways to engage and provide friendship and has always showed huge commitment and consistency in her befriending role.”

Star Driving Volunteer – Clare

Clare is one of our long-standing volunteers, having supported us to deliver our services since 2005! Transport is a vital cog in our services and volunteer drivers like Clare are invaluable to us. Clare drives our older friends to and from the groups they attend, as well as various other parties and events we put on.

While Clare hasn’t been able to do much driving for us since the pandemic, her caring nature has seen her support our older friends in other ways this year. Clare’s nomination told us she has kept in touch with letters and postcards containing lovely pictures. Her continuous acts of kindness are appreciated more than ever by us during these especially challenging times.

Star Fundraising Volunteer – Andrew 

For over 3 years, Andrew has supported us in our fundraising activities in a multitude of ways. From helping us with designing and formatting our Volunteer Newsletter, to taking part in sponsored events and even running his own. Andrew’s skills know no bounds!

In the past, you’ll have found him donning a Link Age Southwark t-shirt and collection bucket at our fundraising events. This year, he stepped up to help us again when those events were cancelled, by creating and hosting 4 extremely entertaining Facebook Live Pub Quizzes. If you’d like to see Andrew in action, please join us for our last one of the year, The Big Give Christmas Quiz on Tuesday 1 December. 

Star Group Volunteer – Jean 

Our groups provide a much-needed link to the wider community for many of our older friends. They offer the opportunity to exercise, socialise, craft and play games, as well the chance for friendships to grow. Our dedicated volunteers and professional tutors are crucial to the running of our groups.

Since 2012, Jean has been committed to supporting our groups. As an ex-teacher, Jean is always prepared and brings a wealth of experience and resources to her group in Camberwell. The group, as a result, has an exciting and varied programme of activities, including arts and crafts, exercise and poetry. There’s always plenty time for a chat and a cuppa too!

Star Office Volunteer – Lesley

As a small team, we often rely on our volunteers to support us in the office, as well as with the delivery of our services. There is always plenty of admin to get through and not much time to do it! We’ve been working remotely for a large part of this year, and our office volunteers have adapted and continued to take on a myriad of tasks for us, including data entry, minute taking and post prepping.

Lesley has been supporting us with our office activities for the past 3 years, volunteering alongside a busy family life. Our staff nomination said, “Lesley fulfills our value of ‘having a can do attitude’ by always being willing to take on new tasks. Lesley is reliable, a good team player and she is a pleasure to have in the office. We are very grateful for all her hard work helping to support the work of Link Age Southwark.”

Star Practical Support Volunteer – Nat

As part of our mission to help older people remain as independent as possible in their homes, we rely on capable volunteers who are confident in completing practical tasks in the home. This work makes all the difference to our older friends, as we can get a small job done and remove a source of worry for them.

Nat can turn his hand to just about anything and he’s been doing just that for the past 6 years. As well as helping us to deliver practical support in homes and gardens, Nat’s band has performed at our fundraising events and he’s also taken on befriending. With his positive attitude and friendly manner, Nat is a valued member of our volunteers and the local community.

Star Shopping Volunteer – Peter

As a result of the pandemic, we recognised the urgent need of some of our very isolated older friends who were unable to leave their homes. In March, we introduced our shopping and prescription collection service to support those who were vulnerable and at risk. As we adapted our services to meet new demands, so did our volunteers.

Peter, who joined us as a volunteer last year, now acts as a befriender and a shopper! He carries out a weekly shop for two of our older friends and his nomination stated:  “Peter has been doing my shopping and he is exceptional.  I have really appreciated our distanced doorstep conversations and the moral support he offers. Clearly Peter is dedicated to his volunteering.”

Super Star Volunteer (1) – Ken

Ken has been a fantastic, non-stop volunteer for us since 2015.  In that time, he has clocked more driving assignments than anyone – now running into hundreds of journeys!

Ken is committed to helping those he drives around in a non-hurried, safe as possible way, and he’s also a regular volunteer driver for St Christopher’s outpatient service. As well as providing reliable transport, Ken’s been involved with many of our fundraising efforts. He’s regularly supported us by shifting our resources; from tables and banners, to those all-important tea urns! During the pandemic, Ken was one of the first to volunteer his services and he has now taken on prepping and delivering volunteering communications for us.

Super Star Volunteer (2) – Luke

As a befriender, Luke has formed a great relationship with his befriendee, who he’s been matched with since 2018. As a way of keeping in touch with his befriendee during the pandemic, Luke’s been popping cards through their letter box. In addition, he’s gone out of his way to reach those more isolated by checking in with them on their doorsteps.

Luke has also been one of the brilliant team of volunteer shoppers, picking up and delivering essentials to two of our older friends each week, since March.  As if all this wasn’t not enough, Luke is putting his professional film making skills into practice, by creating a promotional video for us. His nomination says, “Thank you for being caring, reliable and proactive.  Could we say more!!!”

We were proud to have been awarded the Investing in Volunteers Quality Mark earlier this year, and we will continue to celebrate our volunteers for all their efforts.  A big thank you to everyone who participated and CONGRATULATIONS to all our wonderful winners!