Richard Shone, Jewish Care’s Director of Community Services, Volunteering and Social Work
When comedian and script writer, Ivor Baddiel volunteered to host our Betty and Aubrey Lynes Annual Volunteer Awards evening recently, it was a perfect way to celebrate Jewish Care’s 3000 inspiring volunteers. Our volunteers support our care staff to help make our care homes feel like home for over 500 residents and hundreds of members of our community centres, centres for people living with dementia and support groups.
This year, our staff took time to nominate 120 volunteers for awards; a testament to how much we all value our volunteers. Their ages range from 12 and 13 year old participants in the charity’s leadership programme for young people to the 101 year old volunteer Marie Joseph, who is a member of our Friends of Jewish Care’s Brenner Stepney Jewish Community Centre Fundraising Committee.
Thanks to our volunteers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, many people who found themselves cut off from their friends, family and community, also found that they were still part of our caring community. Through our volunteers, we were able to keep isolated people connected through phone calls, food deliveries and online gatherings. When our homes and our community centres reopened, our volunteers remained at the heart of our services and we couldn’t do what we do without their dedication and commitment.
We communicate with our volunteers often, sending them a regular email, with news from Jewish Care, updates of what our volunteers are up to, creative tips, recipes and quizzes for them to enjoy and to take to their activities if they wish to. We also make sure that all of our volunteers are supported and trained across our care homes and community centres, with volunteer coordinators onsite to support them in their volunteering roles.
When it comes to placing new volunteers or ensuring that they continue to enjoy what they do, we look for the right role to fit them. This can mean an opportunity for them to grow, to feel empowered and rewarded and in many cases to stay with Jewish Care for many years to come. Below I will highlight just a few of our amazing volunteers who very deservingly were recognised at our awards ceremony last month.
Angela Simmons, who has volunteered at Jewish Care’s Ronson Family Community Centre at Sandringham for five years, four days a week, ensures the community centre members there are cared for, looked after and have the best day, every day. Like many of our volunteers, she gives her time and love to our community centre members. Angela tells us that she wakes up every morning knowing that she is going to Jewish Care and couldn’t be happier. She tells us that it’s the best thing that has happened to her in a long time.
We train all of our staff in the Jewish way of life, and we rely on our volunteers to support care staff to bring the “Jewish” to Jewish Care for the residents in our care homes. Ruti Roche volunteers at Jewish Care’s Vi & John Rubens House in Redbridge. She is committed to giving to others from the heart, bringing her Jewish knowledge to the residents, baking for festivals with them, table-top gardening, reading and praying with those residents who ask her to, in their rooms, making the residents feel at home.
Ruti loves planning activities around the Sabbath and Jewish festivals, making them as interactive as she can. She talks to the residents about their memories, recording their life stories as well as getting to know their relatives too.
Marilyn Albert, who has volunteered at Jewish Care’s Anita Dorfman House care home at Sandringham, organises prayers before the Jewish Sabbath and festivals, lighting candles with residents and saying blessings together, supporting residents to do what many of them will have done for years in their own homes with their families, who we always welcome to join us in our homes.
Ruth Klajman, who is 21, has volunteered at Jewish Care’s Sidney Corob House for people with mental health needs, since she was 15. She started as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Awards, as part of The Shabbat Walk group. She says it’s so fulfilling to volunteer by supporting and listening to people. Many of our staff tell us how important the relationships with from volunteers from the community are to our residents. They play an important part in supporting a sense of wellbeing and a sense of feeling valued by many of our residents and community centre members across all of our services.
Many of our volunteers tell me they are so proud of their volunteering and they wouldn’t be the same person without it. I can honestly say that Jewish Care wouldn’t be the same without the dedication, commitment, love and care that our volunteers give to our members, clients and residents and staff each day.
If you would like to know more about volunteering at Jewish Care please contact Volunteer@jcare.org or 020 8922 2405