Age NI is celebrating our amazing volunteers for 2022 Volunteers' Week! 

Meet Mary, a retail shop volunteer at Age NI’s Newtownards Shop. Retail volunteers provide vital assistance to our shop staff, generating much needed funds that go back into providing services for older people across Northern Ireland.

Mary has been volunteering at the Newtownards shop for three years. “After my husband of 53 years passed away, I was looking for something to occupy my time. I was walking past the shop and asked if I could sign up, and have been coming in ever since!”

Mary loves the social nature of the shops. She has made friends with many of the regular customers, and takes pride in the praise the shops receive. "I’d worked in retail so it comes second nature, I’m a wee chatterbox. It has helped me so much, it gets me out of the house and everyone is wonderful. I would be lost without it!"

Shop staff Louise and Ramona have nothing but praise for Mary: “Mary is an excellent worker, volunteer, amazing with the customers and willing to learn. She is our wee trooper! She never fails to let us down, rain, hail, or snow and she’s here. Wouldn’t be without her!”

Do you live near one of our four shops (Newtownards, Bangor, Coleraine, or Ballymena) and are looking for a way to get involved with Age NI? Check out our retail and all other volunteer opportunities here: Volunteer Opportunities

Meet Joan, a volunteer with Living Well Moyle, an Age NI programme which enables older people in local communities who may require support to increase their independence and live the lives they want to lead.

Joan got involved with Age NI nearly 7 years ago, having just moved from England and in search of a volunteer opportunity where she and her dog could visit with older people like she’d done previously. “When I would bring my dog Holly to meet with dementia patients, everyone got such a buzz. I was happy to continue that with my new dog Bonnie and my first Living Well Moyle client – he loved her visits, and having a dog there immediately broke down any barriers meaning we could bond more quickly.”

While Joan has experienced the struggles of connecting with matches over the phone instead of face to face, she is still seeing the difference Age NI is making. I have met so many characters – one man who writes poems, another who has promised to teach me to tango, and with all of them we can have a conversation where we put the world to rights. I get so much out of it myself, it has been so fulfilling.”

Living Well Moyle coordinator Sandra is grateful to Joan for her years of volunteer work: “Joan always goes above and beyond. She has supported six different clients, and is always available to help and support.”

Living Well Moyle needs more volunteers now! If you’re in the Ballymena area and interested, hear more from Joan and Bonnie in this video: Joan and Bonnie

And more information and a sign up form can be found here: Volunteer Opportunities

Meet Ken, a volunteer for Age NI’s fundraising team and Check In and Chat programme. Without our amazing volunteers, Age NI couldn’t be there for older people across Northern Ireland. Every penny raised by our collection and event volunteers means that our staff can provide more care.

Ken found Age NI when he planning for his retirement in 2014. A lifelong musician, he quickly started doing singalongs at day centres, and now brings his keyboard along for supermarket collection days and events. He has also been a Check In and Chat volunteer since 2020, making a weekly friendship call to his match.

“I try to give my best in everything I do, and this applies to my volunteering as much as anything else. I find all the people in and around Age NI, whether staff, fellow-volunteers or service users, to be lovely friendly people and it is obvious that anything I do is appreciated. One service user at one of the day-centres said to me ‘You are much loved when you come to play and sing with us.’ That will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is all worthwhile for that alone.

Having dabbled in many of Age NI’s volunteering roles, Ken encourages everyone to get involved in some capacity. “Volunteering is a great way of using your time, and Age NI is a fantastic organisation with whom to volunteer. You will feel valued and welcome.”

Fundraising Officer Natalie is so appreciative for Ken’s participation in fundraising events: “Ken brings such wonderful energy and brightens everyone’s day with his musical contributions. Hearing a lively Christmas tune from Ken on his keyboard is what keeps us going on chilly winter collections days!”

Find a collection event near you, and check out our other volunteer opportunities here: Volunteer Opportunities

Meet Roseanne, a volunteer at Age NI’s Portaferry Day Centre. Day centres are a lifeline for older people, and volunteers help contribute to a fun and comforting environment.

Roseanne started volunteering in 2019, feeling that she had a gap to fill when her mother passed away. “I was drawn to Age NI as getting old is something that most people, if they are lucky, will experience. Too often the elderly can be ignored and neglected where charities like Age NI can and do make a real difference to the quality of their lives. I like being a part of this and to feel I may have put a smile on someone’s face (especially when I have baked for them) and given them something to look forward to when they attend the centre.”

Having seen the difference the day centres can make in the lives of older people, Roseanne encourages anyone to consider a volunteer role. “I was uncertain at first but quickly found that I have gained as much from this experience as those availing of it do. If you want to feel useful, give something back and try and brighten an elderly person’s day then I would recommend volunteering in an Age NI care centres.”

Claire from the Portaferry Day Centre can’t thank Roseanne enough for her time and commitment. Roseanne goes over and above what is required of her and nothing is too much trouble from baking beautiful desserts to gathering up quizzes and even raising money for our centre. She is one in a million to us.

Check out the volunteer opportunities at all of Age NI’s day centres here: Volunteer Opportunities

Meet Alex, a retail volunteer at the Coleraine shop.

Alex started at the Coleraine shop as part of the government employment scheme, and stayed on as a volunteer when that ended a few months ago. He saw the difference he could make in a busy environment like a charity shop. “I like that I felt helpful, and being in the shop has been good for me as I try to come out of my shell. I think I am more sociable now as I’m interacting with new people, and am enjoying getting to know the staff and customers. I couldn’t recommend it enough, it’s been a great experience.

All four of Age NI’s charity shops are always looking for volunteers, check out opportunities near you here: Volunteer Opportunities

Meet Colin, a fundraising volunteer and member of Age NI’s Consultative Forum.

Colin became aware of the work of Age NI back in 2009, and has been an active volunteer ever since. “As I aged, I felt I had a vested interest in volunteering for the charity. Much of the motivation comes from my interest in rights informed by my professional training as a lawyer.”

Colin has been involved in a variety of programmes with Age NI, including helping fundraise at Age NI collections. “I like the opportunity to volunteer in a wide range of roles, whether in policy development, engagement with health and social care improvement, informing older people about our work and services available to them and meeting the public through fundraising.”

Volunteering for Age NI is stimulating. It is a charity which recognises the value older people can give in co-designing services and also in positively influencing public perceptions of older age. Volunteers are well supported by staff and by peer older people.

Fundraising Officer Natalie can’t imagine what they would do without Colin. “Colin can always be counted on to lend a hand. He is so passionate about Age NI and is a wonderful asset to our collection events and the organization as a whole.”

Do you want to help fundraise for vital Age NI services? Find more information and sign up here: Volunteer Opportunities

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