Volunteers are needed to help run more Living Well Groups and extend the Charity’s reach to retired fire and rescue service personnel out in their communities.
“Our volunteers are the lifeblood for the Charity, helping us get out into communities and bring benefits to more beneficiaries,” says Communities Development Lead Clare Hannaford. “While there will always be a place for the amazing stuff we do at our centres, this is no less important a role to play in promoting people’s wellbeing. Helping people to keep in touch with the fire community after retiring is so important to help combat loneliness and social isolation.”
Living Well Group Volunteers receive full training before they begin, support on how to keep things running smoothly and advice around safeguarding and boundaries. Then all they need to do afterwards is commit to one day a month to run the regular sessions.
“Our Living Well Volunteers are the glue that keeps the retired fire and rescue community together,” says Clare. “They play the role of host, greeting people, making them feel included, planning content where necessary and, most importantly, making the cups of tea! As well as helping people benefit from the Charity’s support, there are a lot of benefits for the volunteers themselves; studies prove that people who volunteer generally feel happier and healthier, knowing they are giving something back.”
Geographical areas currently in need of volunteers include Lancashire, London, Devon, Somerset, Warwickshire, Kent and Bedfordshire, but if anyone thinks there is an appetite for setting up a group in their local area, Clare is open to suggestions.
“The most important qualities for a Living Well Volunteer are a genuine interest in people and an understanding of the Fire and Rescue Service,” says Clare. “We have found that the groups work particularly when volunteers work in pairs as they can bounce off each other while helping to create that informal ‘mess room’ atmosphere. So if you’ve been supported by the Charity and want to say thank you, or you are passionate about making people feel like they still belong somewhere, please consider volunteering.”
If you’re interested in becoming a Living Well Group volunteer or would like more information, contact Clare at CHannaford@firefighterscharity.org.uk or give her a ring on 01626 853639.