Senior PR and Marketing Executive, Sophie, discusses why she chose two different charities for her volunteering days, in our second post of our volunteering blog series.

Last year’s John Lewis’ #ManOnTheMoon Christmas advert struck a chord with me. It registered with me that while I would be sitting at the dining room table with my family on Christmas Day, tucking into a roast dinner, there are elderly people that have no family and will be on their own at this time of year. It was this advert that made me decide that I wanted to spend one of my volunteer days with a charity that is dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people.

I came across Contact the Elderly, a charity that organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people aged 75 and over, who live alone. The charity services the whole of England, Wales and Scotland. So, my first stop was the charity’s main office in London back in February. I had been liasing with the communications manager, who had informed me that the charity had just finished its huge campaign with Bisto called Spare Chair Sunday; a project that allows people to offer a spare chair at their Sunday lunch to an older person who would have otherwise been eating alone.

A third of people over the age of 70 in the UK eat alone every day

The campaign had been hugely successful, and the charity received thousands of volunteers.  So, when I turned up to the main office, I spent the day sifting through hundreds of applications, and inputting the information into an internal database. Even though the charity’s main office was in London, the team was really small, so my time at Contact the Elderly felt extremely valuable. It really showed me the importance of volunteers to a charity – no matter how large or small. I had a fantastic time with the team, and have kept in touch with them since.

Following my first volunteer day, I decided that I wanted to spend my second day with a charity a little closer to home, which impacts my local area. I approached Carers Trust Cambridgeshire in October to find out a little more about the charity, and I was thrilled to hear that they would be pleased to receive a day of voluntary work, which I undertook this week.

Carers Trust Cambridgeshire is a network partner of Carers Trust and provides services and help for family carers and their families across the county. I was liaising with the Young Carers and Young Adult Carers team based in St. Ives, who had mentioned that they would like my advice and support on how to best launch a new campaign in the New Year.

My morning started with a meeting with the head of the department and the volunteering co-ordinator, who explained how the team supports young carers across the county. The team support young carers as young as five years old, which left me feeling very sad but motivated to maximise the opportunity to support the team. The staff are so enthusiastic about what they do which I found incredibly inspiring.

I spent the majority of the morning brainstorming ideas around a press launch and the supporting marketing activity that could be implemented to ensure the new project is a success. In the afternoon, I pulled my thoughts and ideas into a plan and presented the ideas to the team. I was pleased to learn that they liked my ideas, which are now with the senior management team for consideration.

The team at Carers Trust Cambridgeshire has since asked if the Conscious Communications team can come back in the New Year to further brainstorm ideas, to which we gladly accepted.  The request made me realise how much they valued my time – even though it was just a day – and how much every little thing really does help! I had such a wonderful time with the charity that I would definitely like to further support them in 2017, and even perhaps use my two volunteer days with them next year too!

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