My name is Maeve Duffy and I am a Masters student studying Health Psychology at the University of Bath. As part of the Masters course I was lucky enough to have a placement at LinkAge during the summer months. My voluntary role during the placement was primarily to assess the success of the befriending scheme through a service evaluation. I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and the endless gratitude expressed by older people about their befrienders.
I began to see the benefits of volunteering on the scheme for all involved, particularly for the befrienders who have developed lasting friendships with the older people.
During my placement I also volunteered my time to attend activities and events offered by LinkAge. I have done a lot of volunteering since I was quite young. However, I have never seen it make such a difference to an age group as it does for older people. From simply sitting down and giving them some of your time to talk, to helping to run an activity class, volunteering puts a smile on their face for the rest of the day. Volunteering is an incredibly fulfilling and worthwhile experience.
Through their outreach work LinkAge are making a remarkable difference to people aged 55 and above. I am still stunned by the sheer amount of work they do with such a small pool of staff. This in itself is a testament to their success. LinkAge are dedicated to making a difference and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience firsthand what they do to enrich the lives of older people in Bristol.