Batul from Croydon started volunteering with us seven years ago as a driver after her Grandmother passed away.
Since then her involvement with the charity has significantly increased and earlier on this year she nominated us Charity of the Year at Markel where she works in the IT department.
Her involvement in encouraging the team at Markel to take part in her fundraising initiatives has been inspiring and so far they have raised over £14,000 for the charity.
Her hard work has not gone unnoticed, and in November she was recognised at the Lloyds Market Awards for her dedication to fundraising. Here she tells us what she loves the most about volunteering with Contact the Elderly (now Re-engage) .
Why did you first get involved with Contact the Elderly?
My grandmother died in 2009, this had a profound effect on my life and who I was. It wasn’t until two years later I was watching GMTV that I decided to apply. They were running a campaign for volunteers for various charities and Contact the Elderly was featured.
Working with a charity was one of the things on my bucket list and when I saw what you do, it came together and I called them that morning.
My grandmother was lucky in that she wasn’t lonely but there are so many older people who are and I wanted to help change that even for a few hours.
How did Markel get involved with fundraising for Contact the Elderly?
I have worked with for Contact the Elderly for 7 years and it's the only charity I actively support. I know in previous years Markel have given a donation at Christmas time and that money has allowed the group I am a part of to do so many things for the guests, like arranging professional ballroom dancers, or a tea in a hotel or hampers at Christmas time.
I decided to nominate the charity as our Charity of The Year 2018 and amazingly the committee chose to support them.
What fundraising activities have you taken party in? Have the rest of your team enjoyed it?
I did the Standard City 5K run as part of a group with Markel, we raised £2,500 as a team. Running was never one of my strongest suits and it's one of my least favourite things to do but I completed it and I felt a sense of achievement and proud.
The whole team have really enjoyed being involved. We've held cake sales, Christmas jumper days and this month we hosted a group of older guests at our office for afternoon tea.
What do you personally get out of volunteering?
I get to make a tangible difference, I see how much the guests appreciate being taken out for a few hours, they aren’t stuck in front of the TV alone, and they can put something in their diary and have something to look forward to.
Volunteering keeps me humble, my feet on the ground and reminds me of what is important. I don’t believe that life is all about me.
Sometimes I will look at a guest’s hands or eyes and they will remind me of my grandmother…
Do you have a memorable story from one of your groups?
There are so many but I will to share this one with you. The first time I volunteered, I remember I picked up a lady called Anna. She was Russian and spoke of the war and how she came here as a refugee, she was outspoken and fierce; she thanked me for taking the time to drive her when I dropped her home.
I knew she would be alone except her friend would come from Tooting on the bus to visit her some days. I remember crying when I drove back home, humbled and grateful for my own life but also to help her. She passed away a few years ago but I hope we made a difference to her life in the end.
Why do you think loneliness is such an issue at the moment and what do you think people need to do to try and prevent it?
I think people’s lives are busier now, both with work and home, when people have time they want to rest and take time for themselves. Our lives have also been disrupted with the use of social media and people do not verbally communicate to each other as much.
I think people need to volunteer to combat their own loneliness and that of others!
On a more serious note, people need to make time for others by picking up the phone, talking to and meeting with people as well as making an effort to put their phones down for an hour or so without touching it.
Choosing your charity of the year
Many older people experience social isolation and loneliness in later life.
By choosing Contact the Elderly (now Re-engage) as your Charity of the Year you can help us reach them. For more information, please email our fundraising team.
Alternatively, have a look at our volunteering opportunities
Note - Contact the Elderly is now Re-engage
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