“Somewhere in me was a misguided assumption of what a ‘lonely’ person should be”

Vicki shares her experience of volunteering for Marmalade Trust

I am proud to say that I am a volunteer with Marmalade Trust, as well as a colleague of the Co-op Group, both of which are working to tackle the issue of loneliness head on.

I have been volunteering for Marmalade Trust, with my partner Stu, since Christmas 2016. It all stemmed from a conversation we’d had the previous Christmas. We thought there must be so many people out there spending this period alone. We wondered who they were, where they were, how this had come to be, and we found ourselves compelled to find a way to reach them.

Shortly afterwards we discovered the Marmalade Trust, so we got in touch.

On Christmas Day in 2016, and again in 2017, Stu and I volunteered as ‘Lead Volunteers’ which basically entails organising one of Marmalade Trust’s Christmas Day lunches for people who would otherwise spend the day completely alone. I spoke to the guests in the run up to the day, talking them through their meal options and explaining who would be driving them to and from the venue. I also made arrangements with the volunteer drivers and the venue management. The first venue was the Future Inn and the second was the Oxford (Totterdown). Two very different venues but both were so incredibly supportive of us, nothing was too much trouble.

During the summers I have also been taking part in Marmalade Trust’s new ‘buddy scheme,’ working with an isolated person to help them reconnect in their community.

During my first Christmas with Marmalade Trust, as I watched everyone talking and laughing together I realised that somewhere in me was a misguided assumption of what a ‘lonely’ person should be. This group was diverse and vibrant and it was clear that these were not people who had intentionally shut the door on the world or become side-lined for any particular reason. I quickly learnt just how easy it is for a person – any person – to find themself drifting further and further from the rest of society with no power to stop it.

The work that Marmalade Trust does to tackle the loneliness epidemic head on is so important. It has been a real joy to play a part in bringing some of these people together. Since discovering Marmalade Trust, my Christmases have been filled with happiness, laughter and a real sense of togetherness. I have met some fantastic characters, heard some incredible stories and been humbled by the truly heartfelt gratitude of those that have joined us.

To find out about our volunteering opportunities visit https://marmaladetrust.org/volunteer/. We require over 100 volunteers for Christmas. It’s never too early to sign up!

Read about how Co-op and British Red Cross are tackling loneliness here https://www.co-operative.coop/campaigning/loneliness-campaign

Marmalade Trust is currently a Co-op Local Cause. If you’re a Co-op Member you can vote for our cause here https://membership.coop.co.uk/causes/15614/ All funds raised will go towards providing lunch and companionship to lonely and isolated people on Christmas Day 2018.

 

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