Volunteers with Ageless Thanet will receive their prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest recognition for volunteers – at Turner Contemporary on February 8.
Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain, HM The Queen’s personal representative in the county, will visit Margate to present the award crystal and certificate to volunteers in a celebration of the programme and their valued contribution.
Ageless Thanet, led by Social Enterprise Kent, has been reducing loneliness and isolation among over 50s for the last seven years, thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund’s ‘Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better’ programme.
Volunteers, who are all over 50, have been at the heart of the programme since it began. They set its direction as part of the governance panel; run activities such as quizzes, coffee mornings and social strolls and co-create services with the Ageless Thanet team.
More than 200 volunteers have been involved since the start of the programme, giving over 10,000 hours of service.
Long-term volunteer Liz Roberts, of Broadstairs, said: “I discovered Ageless Thanet at just the right time for me. I had recently retired and there were a few other changes going on. I think the greatest opportunity Ageless Thanet gave me was to learn to play the ukulele. Our group enjoyed it so much that we decided that we carry on and we’ve been going for over three years now!”
Rebecca Smith, Deputy CEO of Social Enterprise Kent and Ageless Thanet programme manager, said: “Ageless Thanet volunteers have given so much to this community and it’s fantastic to see them getting recognition for this. Especially during COVID-19 our volunteers went above and beyond, delivering food and prescriptions, doing telephone befriending and supporting people to access digital services, as well as organising online activities to boost morale.”
Ageless Thanet volunteers have proven that volunteering also has benefits for volunteers and age is no barrier to participation.Some 86% of volunteers said their feelings of being part of the community increased through volunteering and 65% increased their confidence.
Funding for Ageless Thanet activities has now ended but Social Enterprise Kent and partners at Your Leisure and Age UK are ensuring support for older people continues under the Kent County Council wellbeing contract. Many volunteer groups have also been supported to continue independently, helping to ensure that Thanet remains a great place to grow older.
For more information visit www.agelessthanet.org.uk/ageless-futures