Caring volunteers are in a league of their own

A group of sporty volunteers are in a league of their own when it comes to caring for people who have needed a helping hand.

Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust (RUCST) has been working with Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) to provide practical and emotional support to vulnerable and struggling families across the borough, including a 98-year-old lady who has been pleased just to see someone every week..

And now the extent to which the volunteers have touched the lives of over 50 Rotherham people is highlighted in a heart-warming new report about the scheme, which reveals how they have gone the extra mile to help those who have been self-isolating through lockdown.

Trudi Race, RUCST’s Inclusion Manager, co-ordinated the volunteers, taking self-referrals and others from RDaSH and other Rotherham agencies. She said: “Prior to coronavirus, RDaSH funded us to provide a befriending service for Rotherham residents who have low level mental health problems like anxiety and depression. We had to suspend that when the pandemic started and widen our role to help people in lockdown.

“Our staff, volunteers and fans have supported the scheme. They have been arranging a weekly shop, picking up prescriptions and chatting on the phone to those who haven’t been able to go out, just to show there’s someone there for them. They have also provided a free dog walking service twice a week for those with pets.”

But their caring nature has extended much further, as Rachel Hall, RDaSH’s Continuous Improvement Lead in Rotherham, explains: “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the volunteers, most of them young people who have freely given their time to provide a lifeline for those who need vital support.

“Their impact has been amazing. One resident’s microwave broke and as it was her only cooking appliance, a volunteer bought her a new one. Another felt suicidal so the volunteer referred them to the crisis team and then followed up by taking a birthday gift and regular baking to lift their spirits. Another volunteer tidied up a resident’s garden as he was worried how it was getting overgrown but couldn’t go outside to do the work himself. He was thrilled with the result.

“Another volunteer visited two ladies in isolation and found them tearful so returned later with some surprise flowers to cheer them up. A lady with mental health problems needed telephone support as she had no one to talk to and had a son with special needs. One volunteer put together an activity pack for her son and dropped it off. Her son’s behaviour improved and he calmed down, which meant she was less stressed. These are just a few of many examples of the positive impact the volunteers have had through their kindness. Grateful comments from the people who have been helped runs to three pages of solid text.”

In total, more than 350 volunteers’ hours have been clocked up and 32 people continue to be supported.