unpaid carers Wellbeing workforce

Valuing our inspiring volunteers

Jo Selwyn, Department Manager of Volunteering, Jewish Care

Jo Selwyn, Department Manager of Volunteering at Jewish Care, sheds light on the invaluable contributions and profound impact of volunteers, both within the organisation and the communities they serve.

It gives us great pleasure to recognise the wonderful contributions our volunteers bring to Jewish Care, the largest health and social care organisation for the Jewish community in London and the South East. The remarkable work our volunteers do every day makes such a difference to us and to the communities we support.

We simply couldn’t do what we do without the commitment, love and care that our volunteers give each day. They support Jewish Care’s residents, community centre members, clients and Retirement Living tenants as well as clients at Jami’s Hubs and Head Room social enterprise café, run by Jami mental health service which recently integrated with Jewish Care.

As Volunteer’s Week approaches (3rd – 9th June) it’s a good opportunity to highlight the invaluable contribution all of our volunteers make, and the many benefits that volunteering brings.

Building connections and growing skills through volunteering is a positive way to give back to our communities. Relatives of residents and community centre members we have supported say they find volunteering is a meaningful way to show they care and to express their thanks for the care their relatives and friends received.

Volunteering is good for well-being. Giving time provides a way to connect with others, to contribute to and be involved with community life and to feel valued, which can be all be beneficial for mental health. It can be a stepping stone back into employment after a career break. For many people on retirement, it creates that sense of purpose and routine that work previously gave them. Donating time creates opportunities to utilise skills and experience people have acquired and to learn new skills, which is beneficial for everyone involved.

We value the precious time our volunteers give to us. We know that offering flexible roles helps to fit volunteering into busy lives for those who are juggling work, studies or caring for grandchildren or older parents.

Our volunteers build strong relationships with our staff and with the people they support. We orient volunteers to understand and embrace our values of inclusivity, compassion, integrity, excellence and innovation. They listen without judgement, they entertain and build relationships, deliver meals to older, isolated people at homes and drop off our members to our services including our community centres and centres for people living with dementia.  As well as the practical side, it’s the little things that volunteers do that can make a huge difference to someone’s day. Taking the time to remember something that a resident or community centre member has told them shows thought and kindness and can make a day extra special.

It’s important to us to pay the kindness back by acknowledging how valued our volunteers are to us throughout the year. A thank you can go a long way. Regular communication through our newsletter as well as wishing happy birthday to volunteers helps them feel appreciated and valued.

Our recognition celebrations during Volunteer’s Week and regional award ceremonies give the opportunity for our senior team to highlight how special volunteers are. Our annual Betty and Aubrey Lynnes Volunteers Awards are a celebration of the successes, dedication, and love that our almost 3,000 volunteers bring to Jewish Care and gives us  the opportunity to thank some of our amazing volunteers.

They have a great attitude, spreading positivity and motivation and a strong sense of care and compassion, and we know we can always rely on their help and support.

Many of our volunteers love to share their skills, for example Valerie Nead, otherwise known as the Dancing Queen, loves to dance with our members when we have entertainment and lights up the room. Our JC Explore volunteers patiently enable older people to learn new skills like connecting their mobile and devices to Bluetooth or speaking to their families across the world on Zoom. We celebrate the creativity and tenacity of those who fundraise for us.

Our intergenerational volunteers include children from nursery age through to secondary schools. JCoSS Year 8 student volunteers create amazing connections with members at Jewish Care’s Sam Beckman Centre for people living with dementia.

All our volunteers play an important role in supporting us as a culturally specific organisation so that the spirit of Jewish festivals and celebrations is brought to life all year round.

As Volunteering Department Manager I am proud to lead a fantastic team of staff who recruit, welcome, train and communicate with the volunteers, new and old with a positive attitude and a friendly smile.  Imagine coming to work and to be surrounded by people who give their time so generously. It’s an incredibly positive and warm environment and a real pleasure and privilege to work with our volunteers.




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