So, in the hope of getting to know my local community better, and with the aim of that worthy but vague notion of “giving something back”, I ventured to the Headingley Heart centre to find out more about my local neighbourhood network OWLS – Older, Wiser Local Seniors – and their volunteer opportunities.
Neighbourhood networks are community organisations which promote independance of older adults, encouraging community participation and acting as signposting agents to other available services. In my area this includes a lunch club, exercise groups, shopping trips and other days out, bollywood movie afternoons and various seasonal activities.
They also run a befriending service, which, given my shift patterns, was the service I was keen to get involved with, as it allows a little more flexibility. After references and vetting, voluunteers are paired up with a local resident who may be struggling to get out and about or might just want a little company. Visits are for one or two hours and can be weekly or fortnightly, depending on need. With all forms filled in, I’m now just waiting for confirmation I’m not a criminal and for my match to be found!