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Edinburgh volunteer shortlisted for national award


A volunteer who has dedicated seven years to serving Contact the Elderly and help eradicate loneliness in older people was shortlisted for a national award.

Anne Grindley is our Edinburgh Area Organiser. She was nominated by fellow volunteer Carol Findlay for Volunteer Coordinator of the Year at the UK Charity Staff and Volunteers Awards 2016.

When Anne started volunteering with Contact the Elderly in 2009, there were three groups running free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for those aged 75 and over in the city. Today, thanks in large part to Anne’s efforts, there are now 15 groups supporting more than 100 older people in Edinburgh and East Lothian through a network of 100 volunteers.

Carol Findlay, who nominated Anne for the award, said:

“Anne is a fantastic example of a volunteer coordinator. She thinks of others before herself and is always looking for new ways to promote the organisation. Anne is tireless in her dedication and a worthy finalist for this award.”

Anne, 64, of Balerno, formerly held careers in teaching and the civil service. She started volunteering seven years ago after remembering hearing about Contact the Elderly some years earlier. She said:

“I had worked with older people and love their company and stories of long and interesting lives. I was also very aware of how loss in later life so often led to loneliness so I was keen to do something to help.

“Our wonderful volunteers and older guests are fantastic. You couldn't wish for a better bunch of people to work with, and many have become good friends.

“Our volunteers are all ages from their 20s to 80s, and they put themselves out so much to give our older guests a wonderful time at our Sunday afternoon tea parties, whether it's driving them or hosting amazing afternoon teas in their own homes. Our guests have the best stories ever, a great sense of humour, and so appreciate what we do. Often driving them home you forget their age and just think what lovely people they are to spend time with.”

Contact the Elderly’s free Sunday afternoon tea parties take place once a month in volunteer hosts’ homes. Volunteer drivers collect older people and join them for an afternoon of shared enjoyment, tea and cake before returning them safely home. The older people supported by the charity live alone and are at risk of social isolation.

Valerie Crookston, Scotland Executive Officer at Contact the Elderly, said:

“We are incredibly grateful for Anne. She is an invaluable asset to our charity and has helped us in such a meaningful way to make the lives of older people living in Edinburgh better.

“This award nomination and finalist ranking is very well deserved.”

Anne added:

“This award nomination is fantastic, not for what I do, for all our amazing volunteers all over the UK.

“My husband died 20 months ago and their support and enthusiasm have helped me enormously. They inspire me every day especially as I am now very busy with this voluntary work supporting and starting groups in Edinburgh. I often say it's like having all the best bits of a job without any of the things you'd rather not do.”

If you know an older person, aged 75 or over who lives on their own with little to no contact with friends or family, then you can refer them to Contact the Elderly via our online referral form here. 

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