How you can volunteer
The Choice project is looking for volunteers, of any age, who have an interest in raising awareness locally about the service needs and rights of people aged 60 years and over. Choice would particularly like to learn what you think makes a healthy relationship between family members.
We are also want to share information locally to promote choice and empower older people when seeking justice.
There are a range of exciting opportunities available for volunteers.
Choice is looking for people with a variety of skills and experience, so if you would like to help us in any way, we can find the right role for you.
Here are some of the ways you can volunteer:
‘What is a healthy relationship?’ Very few health & wellbeing campaigns focus on what people aged 60+ value in their relationship with family members. You can help us by telling us what you feel is important to you.
- There are numerous ways you can give your views – contact the research team to arrange a suitable time for us to speak with you.
- Write to us with your views on what it is about your husband, wife, children, grandchildren that makes the relationship rewarding.
- Send us photos, images, adverts etc. which shows us examples of positive ageing in Wales.
‘Show us your community’ - helping us to understand your community; telling us where older people meet and what groups they belong to. This could include taking us for a stroll through your community and will help make our awareness raising activity more effective;
‘Helping to raise awareness within your community’ – on the issues around older people who experience mistreatment in their own home. This could involve:
- Talking about the project at local meetings of groups you already attend or by helping at the local public engagement group meetings;
- Putting up posters and leaflets about the project, for example in libraries, doctors’ surgeries, pharmacies and other suitable locations in your area;
‘Putting your creative hat on’. We are keen to see any ideas people have as to images they think would work well for the project and that we could use for our campaigns. For example, it can include drawings, photos or images of older people that show ageing in a positive light, however,
we cannot guarantee that all material will be used.
Please send your ideas to us via email, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, social media or post!
‘Joining us on social media’. We are keen to promote the needs and rights of people aged 60 years and over. We provide the latest updates on project developments, changes in policy and news of public events and conferences focussing on issues relating to us in later life. We would also like you to express your views and post any positive images you see about older people on Twitter.
If you would like more information about the volunteering opportunities available on the project, and then to let us know you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please download the 'Volunteer Information sheet' and the 'Expression of Interest' form - links below - and send the form back to us.
Please contact us if you have further questions about the project or how you may be able to help us by volunteering.
Thank you for your interest in Choice
Some examples of how our volunteers have engaged with the project are:
Cardiff U3A Writing Group
In early 2016, Choice contacted the Cardiff U3A (University of the Third Age) Writing Group, and discussed with them whether they would like to write something for the project that related to the broad subject of ‘positive ageing’. We provided a loose brief as follows:
Ageing is often perceived as a negative process and isn’t always a topic that people feel comfortable talking about. Society, often through media and advertising, seems to be telling us to that younger is better.
Take a moment to think about TV advertising – hair dye to cover the grey, pain relief for ageing joints, financial plans for funeral costs, incontinence and denture products. Now try to think about an advert that promotes ageing in a positive light.
Negative stereotypes of ageing can have an adverse impact on people’s lives. The Choice Project want to challenge the idea that ageing is negative and promote a more positive attitude to older people and their contribution to society. We believe growing older is something that should be celebrated.
“Positive Ageing is about consciously facing up to the challenges of later life” (positiveageing.org). We understand that as we move through life our experience and some of the challenges we face can affect the choices we make and the way we live. This could include things like our physical and mental health, employment, availability of services and family support. It can also change our view of how we see ourselves compared to how others may see us.
The leader of the group, Richard Garman, sent us the following moving piece of writing, based in part on a true story. Richard is happy for us to acknowledge him as the author of the piece.
Two words, that meant nothing to me, suddenly had dramatic significance when my husband, barely forty years old, died. I was left with three young children to bring up and no income. There was nothing for it but to rethink my life and rise to the challenge. I’m not the wallow in self-pity type; there wasn't time. My children needed me and I had to work out a new life.
Fortunately, I had been a young WRAF recruit in the war and had worked on a Lancaster bomber base in East Anglia. I loved mechanical things and was soon to be seen and cheered by the handsome young aircrew and ground crew, as I drove lorries, serviced them, changed wheels and so on. I was in my element and grew personally from the experience. It was quite a thrill to hitch the trailer loaded with high explosive bombs onto the back of my tractor and deliver them to be loaded onto the planes by the armourers. Sometimes it was hard when we waited desperately listening for that distant drone which would tell us that the last planes from the sortie were going to be back soon.
That glowing ember of self-belief was lighting up inside me, but like so many women after the war, I found myself back in the stereotype of marriage, parenthood and dependency. That ember now burst into life. My husband had a car; now I had a car and could drive it. I had a group of friends in the mothers I knew at the school gate, all with a similar need to be able to cover the duties of delivering and collecting little ones each school day. I came up with the idea of starting my own little business bringing all of these together and hopefully earning me enough to keep house and home running. I would employ the other mothers to provide a letterbox leaflet drop service for local businesses. It took a while to drum up my first jobs, but my willing band of helpers were then able to deliver the goods as it were. I drove them to one end of the street, they did the legwork and I picked them up later and handed over the leaflets as necessary. We always made sure that we got back to school in good time.
This all worked out well and I enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction that I had made the enterprise work for the good of my family and the other mothers. My family grew up and became independent, but the business kept going. To cut a very long story short, I didn’t stop until I had to, in my mid-eighties. My eyesight began to fail and I had to give up driving. I do miss it. I know the streets of Cardiff like the back of my hand - every little lane or alleyway. Even though I can’t see the roads very well, as I am driven or I walk around, my head ls like a Satnav. It knows exactly the best route to follow and I frequently surprise taxi drivers with my knowledge. If I lived in London I could have been an instructor for their knowledge training!
Now that I could no longer work or see, life got a little bit empty. No problem. I just needed to find activities to fill my life. Firstly, I am by no means totally blind - most people with a visual impairment have some residual sight and learn to make the most of it. I have a specially adapted tablet computer with various accessibility aids so that I can read texts, take and show photos, and heaven knows what else. That’s me solidly in the 21st century. Less technologically, I joined a weekly keep fit class and a lunch club. They deliver a wonderful combination of social companionship, keeping the joints moving and having one easy meal a week.
I have always loved writing and, with the help of my computer and my family, I have taken to writing poems about topical events. I am a bit of a Royalist, and have written poems celebrating the queen’s jubilee and birthdays which I have sent to the palace. I have some memorable replies in my collection along the lines of “Her Majesty has instructed me to … “. I treasure these memories and it gives me great satisfaction to be able to receive that sort of recognition at this stage of life. Most older folk just get the traditional 100th birthday - I’ve still got that to look forward to.
©Richard Garman, 2016
Below is one of our volunteers, Lauren Boaler, (left), with our Project researcher, Rebecca Zerk on a U3A riverside walk on a very damp December day in 2015!
Choice hopes to positively change attitudes towards people who have suffered mistreatment. It will also offer a forum for individuals and groups to make contact with one another to debate and challenge existing attitudes and practices when responding to older people experiencing harm in their own homes. The project aims to discover what older people want in terms of ‘justice’.
Our Twitter user name is @choiceolderppl so please follow us.
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