Islands’ Volunteer Group Relaunched With Open Day

Island Response, the islands’ volunteer coordination service, has been relaunched with an open day held at the Methodist Hall on St Mary’s last Friday.

The event kicked off with a presentation to Marian Bennett who helped establish the original group but is standing down as a coordinator due to her Council duties.

Coordinators, Beryl Read and Jane Chiverton told us the response was good and they’re pleased to have seven new members sign up.

Island Response was set up in 2001 to help those in need of assistance with daily activities and three years ago was presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Beryl says they match local volunteers to people with specific needs on the islands and help fill the gaps in areas not served by official agencies such as Social Services. This could be anything from gardening, shopping or filling in forms to just sitting with someone and talking or reading.

Volunteers are asked for a minimum of one hour per week although many do more and Beryl says volunteers have found the scheme incredibly rewarding, often forming strong friendships with the person they’ve helped.

The group originally had about 25 people on their list, but Beryl says they’re down on numbers as some people have left the islands and they’re a bit thin on the ground on the off-islands, hence the need for a new recruitment campaign.

One of the success stories from the group has been the meals-on-wheels service, which now provides food for around 16 elderly residents on the islands.

Jane told us that, unlike similar schemes on the mainland, the service is staffed by volunteers, with meals provided by the hospital kitchen.

She said volunteers don’t just drop off meals but will sit and chat, which can provide valuable contact for people on their own or time off for carers.

Jane says the group still need more volunteers especially to meet demand for help with gardening, household cleaning and shopping.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering, but couldn’t make it to the open day, should contact Beryl or Jane to obtain an application form.