25 Feb 2014
UK nominated Tom Johnson as a 'volunteer of the year' thanks to all his hard work for their 'Call In Time' programme. We're very proud of his achievement. Tom's account of attending the Anniversary reception at St James' Palace follows:.
On Monday 27th January I was invited to St. James's Palace for Age UK's 5th Anniversary reception. The evening was hosted by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales who is a patron of the charity.
I'm one of 37 volunteers who take part in Age UK's "Call in Time programme" within Legal & General. Nationally, there are 300 people making calls each week. The idea behind Call in Time is that corporate volunteers call a designated person on a weekly basis. It's a simple way to look out for older people who live alone. Over 1 Million older people often do not see a friend or family member for a whole month. When you think about that, you begin to appreciate why the calls are so important.
I've been speaking to my CIT partner for almost a year now. We get on very well and we have a great bond. 30 minutes in a week doesn't seem like a long time, however, for someone like my phone partner sitting at home alone, just watching TV, it’s invaluable. We both enjoy the calls, but its purpose is to add a safety net for my partner. Should I notice anything unusual in her behaviour or there is no answer, I contact Age UK immediately.
I was nominated for "Call In Time" volunteer of the year and was therefore asked to attend the Anniversary bash as an ambassador for the programme. I was one of two "Call In Time" Volunteers to attend. The experience was something I will never forget. I met so many wonderful people, many of them volunteers from other parts of the charity. Some had spent many years volunteering to sort clothes, with others volunteering in the Age UK shops for 15 plus years. The board of Trustees spoke highly of the help received from Legal and General and the other corporate supporters. I am very proud to be part of L&G and I made sure I spoke up about the good work the employees do. Graham Precey who is Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics attended the event as well.
After speaking to fellow volunteers, some of the trustees and directors, the chance came to speak to Prince Charles. He approached each group and shook everyone's hand. HRH then spoke to everyone individually about their roles. I was asked who I work for, what I do as a day job, my role in the charity and what I get out of it. He was particularly interested in the bridging of age, this was a particular concern for him with an ageing population. HRH was a gentlemen (as you would expect) and showed real interest in what I, and everyone else do for Age UK.
I really do enjoy my work for call in time, I urge you to join if you'd think it's for you. Its 30 minutes a week, but something your phone partner will look forward to each and every week.
If you're doing a clear out of clothes, furniture or toys please think about dropping them off to your nearest Age UK shop. They need 16,000 bags a week nationally, just to stay open. Just think, 5 bags of donations could provide hot meals and companionship for 16 people at a day centre.
HRH Prince of Wales: I think what you all do is wonderful, well done