Volunteers hailed as unsung heroes for pensioners at Staywell charity’s summer party

Volunteers and staff gathered at the Staywell charity’s annual summer party to celebrate volunteers who contribute to the organisation.

The charity focuses its efforts in south-west London and Surrey providing care to predominantly older people and their carers.

Each of the six centres offer activities and services to an estimated 450 people per week, helping them to gain independence in their own home.

Staywell’s chief executive Shane Brennan said: “It’s an organisation that’s founded by the community, it’s for the community and it’s run by the community.

“The volunteers are vital, they support everything we do. Without the volunteers we wouldn’t operate.”

Mr Brennan – pictured above at the party – said he has seen a lot of change during his time at Staywell including a shift in perceptions around older people in society.

“I think the future is exciting, one of the things that’s changed over the last 20 years is that older people aren’t what they were.

“The Rolling Stones and in their 70s and they’re still going.

“There’s going to be more older people than ever before and therefore the way we work with them is different; it’s not all about health and needs, it’s about general community life and wellbeing and how we all work together.”

Raleigh House volunteer Angela Peter, 79, has been part of the Staywell charity for 14 years and has seen profound changes during her time at the charity.

Ms Peter said some of the activities at Staywell include chair exercises, music and singing, newspaper discussions, painting and knitting.

“Kingston hospital has neo-natal babies, often in their incubators and so the older people here knit tiny squares for mother and baby to hold, which are then swapped to pass on their scent to one another,” said Ms Peter.

“What is lovely is that you’ve got elderly ladies knitting these for new babies and there is something very precious about that.”

Ms Peter added that a major challenge lies in answering the needs of older people and those who live on their own.

“The question is how does society respond to caring for older people in a very positive, real way?” she said.

Fellow volunteer Pam Humphreys has been part of Staywell for 11 years and received special recognition for her contribution to the charity at the Volunteering Kingston awards ceremony.

“I’ve been involved with the Saturday club which is for people with dementia and their carers, I’ve been working as a receptionist and for the podiatry clinic.

“This party is a great way for volunteers to feel appreciated and recognised for what they do,” said Ms Humphreys.

Volunteers at Staywell can get involved in a number of ways including making teas and coffees, working on reception, preparing food and befriending.

Sylvon Molyneaux has been a befriender with Staywell for 3 years, which involves visiting people in their homes once a fortnight to offer company and support.

“It’s surprising how many lonely people there are and it’s nice to know that I can give them a bit of uplifting which makes me feel good too, so it goes both ways.

The party was held at Raleigh House in New Malden for local volunteers and those from Bradbury House in Kingston.

Raleigh House is open on Monday-Friday 10am-4pm and also three Saturdays per month from 10:30am-2pm.

Staywell is funded through several streams of income including fundraising, grants and contributions from people using its services.


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