Thank you to our volunteers

02 June 2021

To mark Volunteers’ Week we want to say thank you to our volunteers across the UK. Over the last year, we’ve faced challenges we never could have imagined with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the uncertainty, our committed volunteers have continued to provide support locally to people impacted by arthritis. This has included making the most of technology by sending email updates, connecting on social media and picking up the phone to check in and see how people are feeling.

This contact has been vital, especially as many of our face-to-face services have been postponed.

Here we share the stories from some of our volunteers. Your time, experience, empathy and kindness is so important. A heartfelt thanks to all of our volunteers.

If you want to get involved, find out more about volunteering for us.

“My name is Christina and I have been volunteering for almost 20 years.”

Having worked with several great organisations, I can honestly say that Versus Arthritis have been the best! The staff are so friendly, understanding and supportive, plus the training is excellent.

As a Training Volunteer I deliver the Versus Arthritis self-management courses to people living with long-term health conditions in Northern Ireland.

Originally, I did this in a community setting, but due to the pandemic, I have been delivering the courses online via Teams. This has been a new experience for all of us, but it has worked really well, despite the occasional IT issue.

“For me, the best part of volunteering is knowing that I’m making a difference.”

I love to see the progress that people make from the beginning to the end of our courses. It’s both rewarding and humbling. I always learn something from the course participants – they are very inspirational!

“I’m Jane and I live in Cardiff in South Wales.”

I retired last year after 10 years as a specialist children's and young people's rheumatology nurse, and I was excited to join as a volunteer in November 2020. 

Arthritis affects about 1 in 1000 children, sometimes starting at less than a year old, and in many children, it can continue into adulthood.

It’s vitally important that this is treated quickly and effectively to prevent life-long disability and enable children to develop normally.

“Young people and their families need a lot of support, and I wanted to help as a volunteer.”

So far, I’ve been writing articles for Joint Matters, an educational resource for GPs. This involves researching content online from research to reports and summarising the information in a way that is hopefully useful. I’ve found this really interesting and updated my knowledge. 

“I miss seeing people face to face, as it is easier to chat in real life.”

I also miss the hugs from the little people. I am looking forward to helping with activities with young people, such as rock climbing, when they hopefully resume later this year.

I would like to start a counselling course later this year, so that I can act as a resource for parents and young people in the future.

“I’m Jim and I’ve been teaching Tai Chi for arthritis in Orkney since 2014.”

For the last year, I’ve been teaching to people all over Scotland using Teams. I’m lucky to be one of three Tai Chi for arthritis instructors on Orkney.

Currently there’s Irene on Westray and Rhona Jenkins and myself on the Orkney mainland. We’ve known each another for years and work well together. Tai Chi is an important part of my life, and it’s great to share my interest and the many benefits of tai chi with others.

“It’s so rewarding when people really enjoy your activity and come back year after year.”

Online teaching has been very useful during the last year and has enabled me to meet lots of new, interesting people. There’s been a few drawbacks, like balancing the moving around a room and making sure people can see you on screen and reduced social interaction.

You can’t beat actually being there together with people and having time for a chat.

“My name is Marilyn, I’m based in Gateshead, aged 72 and creaking along nicely.”

I’ve lived with osteoarthritis since my mid 20s and the rheumatoid arthritis came along later. Just for the record, I also have Haemoglobin anaemia, HBP, stage 3 kidney disease, diet-controlled diabetes and mild anxiety/depression. None of these stop me from being a volunteer.

“When I retired, I was ‘persuaded’ to stay on as a volunteer.”

I didn’t need much persuading! I help to run information stands, give talks and store printed material for the other volunteers.

I do so miss the volunteering and catching up with the others although we do have zoom meetings. It’s not the same. I’m vice chair of Gateshead branch too and really miss our meetings.

“A favourite thing of mine, apart from making people laugh, is offering a simple solution to a long-term problem.”

Sometimes when you live with pain for so long, you don’t see a solution to your problem. I meet loads of lovely people and even see friends and family I don’t see too often. My co-volunteers are great fun, and we support each other.

One memory I will never forget happened during a Challenging Arthritis course some years ago. One lady barely spoke during sessions. But then when she’d heard how everyone coped, she decided that, if we could, so could she. She changed her attitude and lifestyle and looked forward to life.

Volunteers' Week 2021

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