Darina, 54, from Brighton volunteers with LifeLines, a project aimed at supporting people over 50 through volunteer-led group activities or 1:1 services.
“I used to take a woman I was befriending, Pat, to the art class at Patching Lodge. We attended together for two years but Pat has dementia and moved into a nursing home about a year ago.
I decided to continue attending the classes because Margaret, the teacher, is wonderful. Whatever the project, she manages to incorporate every level of ability. It’s not solely about technique; it’s about looking and really seeing. Margaret directs without being too prescriptive and adapts activities to suit everyone.
Lifelines is a really cohesive group. We often have a coffee after the class and have been to exhibitions together in Brighton and London.
I also volunteer at a dance awareness workshop and meet an elderly woman once a fortnight to take her out. There are all kinds of difficulties that people experience as they get older and it’s really increased my own sense of age. I want to ensure that I’m engaged with things that keep me curious and interested. I’ve seen the effects when people don’t do that.
Although I work 3 days a week as a property lawyer, I make time to volunteer when I can. I think some people have a misconception about volunteering – that if they start they’ll get sucked into something bigger – but it doesn’t take a lot to make a significant difference to someone’s day!
I’d recommend volunteering to anyone. You can do as much or as little as you like and once you start you’ll find it’s a really positive experience.”