Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard

Our Brighton-based LifeLines volunteers were joined by two very special guests from Strictly Come Dancing, and were featured in the Daily Mail and The Argus.

Saffron and AJ with our oldest participants Joyce, who is still dancing at 93 years old!
Saffron and AJ with our oldest participants Joyce, who is still dancing at 93 years old. Photo credit Ken Goff – GoffPhotos

On Thursday 21st November 2019, celebrity vlogger Saffron Barker and professional dance partner AJ Pritchard came to visit the project, to chat to volunteers and participants fans show them a sneak preview of the dance they were working on.

Saffron and AJ have been performing on the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing for the last 10 weeks, and they took time out of their gruelling training schedule to pop in and learn some steps from our participants! Saffron is a member of the local community where LifeLines runs, and really enjoyed her meeting with the local fans. She said,

“We had an amazing afternoon with the Volunteering Matters team learning a thing or two from their brilliant teacher and dancers. It’s such a lovely organisation. AJ and I had so much fun, we couldn’t stop smiling.”

In Brighton and Hove, we have 40 projects that are part of LifeLines, with around 130 volunteers supporting 450 older members of their community. This ranges from knitting groups to art classes, and this particular dance class is run by volunteer activity leader Julie White. She really enjoyed the visit, saying,

“It was the day when the stars aligned for us. Seeing our group mingling with Saffron and AJ and teaching them a trick or two including our own star dancers like our 93 year old volunteer was amazing fun. We will remember this for years to come.”

Val is one of the participants who regularly attends the class, and is a big fan of the pair on Strictly and appreciated the time they took to visit,

“They didn’t have to come and visit. But they did, and it’s meant so much to all our dancers that they came and joined in and took photos with us!”

All LifeLines volunteers with Saffron and AJ
Photo credit Ken Goff – GoffPhotos

Our Director of Delivery, Emma Thomas-Hancock, summed up the fantastic impact LifeLines has in the local community.

‘We are committed to building even more local volunteering activities, including, like with AJ and Saffron this week, bringing together younger and older members of our communities. It helps people to discover new social networks and friendships, as well as enhanced well-being and physical health. Our volunteers are full of fun ideas, and there is something for everyone, whether dancing, learning Spanish, developing computer skills, or sitting down and having a good chat over tea.”

Saffron and AJ may have left the competition at the weekend, but after such a fantastic visit they are the winners in our eyes! Volunteering Matters featured in Saffron’s video blog on Youtube, which you can watch here.

Every year thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, tens of thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged people in communities across England, Scotland and Wales benefit from the support of Volunteering Matters, and LifeLines is just one of the projects that benefits from this support!

READ THE Argus article

Read the Daily Mail article

More about LifeLines