A CHARITY is making a call for volunteers to step forward across Gloucestershire to kick start a range of new social groups for people in their community, particularly those in later life.

The call is part of a programme ‘Bring People Together’ being delivered by national volunteering charity, Royal Voluntary Service in partnership with Prudential.

The programme, which launched in Gloucestershire last year, is hoping to encourage more people to volunteer to help run, or start their own social groups and activities for people in their area.

These social activities could include; running a quiz group in a community hall, establishing a book club in a local library or exploring new ways to bring people together over food.

The Bring People Together programme is active across the county and is seeking volunteers in Cheltenham, Cirencester, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Stonehouse, Dursley, Winchcombe, Coleford, Cinderford, Lydney, Mitcheldean and Bourton-on-the-Water.

A number of new groups have emerged since the programme began including a Knit & Knitter group in Mitcheldean and an over 60s yoga group in Stonehouse.

Royal Voluntary Service Knit & Knatter Mitcheldean is being managed and run by a local volunteer, Lisa Summers (33) and provides a chance for people to meet with others in the community over a ball of wool, knitting needles and cake.

The group meets weekly on Wednesday from 6-8pm at the Forest Gate Church and anyone is welcome to join.

Lisa said: “I used to go to a Knit & Knatter group when I lived in Gloucester. I loved to learn new stitches and really enjoyed the conversations I had with other members. One was in her 90s. I really missed these chats and knitting with others when we moved, so I decided to set something up myself in Mitcheldean. I’m really look forward to meeting new people at the group and getting the community chatting over wool, patterns and a cup of tea.”

Charlie Allen, Community Engagement and Development Worker for Gloucestershire at Royal Voluntary Service said: “Socialising and getting involved in activities is a great way to improve mental health and wellbeing and increase happiness. These new groups will help to reduce isolation and improve connections between people in the local community. We would be delighted to hear from anyone else interested in starting a group in Cheltenham. All ideas are welcome.”

Jillian Lobban, Director of Regulatory and Legacy Projects at Prudential said: “Volunteering is proven to bring massive benefits both to those who give their time and those that get involved in the services they provide. Our Bring People Together partnership will help Royal Voluntary Service scale up its services and significantly extend its impact in communities across the UK. Working together, we’re looking forward to making remarkable things happen in your local community.”

No previous experience is necessary as full training will be provided.

Royal Voluntary Service will also provide guidance on recruiting volunteers to help you, managing money and fundraising and on how to run the activity safely and legally.

In return, volunteer co-ordinators can enjoy developing their skills and experience, being part of a team and creating something of lasting value for their community and the people in it.

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with over 20,000 volunteers supporting thousands of people each month in hospitals and in the community.

The simple acts of kindness our volunteers provide, whether popping in for tea and a chat, helping out with a lift to a GP or social appointment or running chair-based exercises on ward, help make communities stronger and relieve the pressure on overstretched public services.

The charity is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafes and shops providing a valued haven in hospitals.

If anyone has an idea for a group they would like to set up as a volunteer coordinator, please contact Charlie on Charles.allen@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk or call 07774 334 322 or visit royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

For more information about the Knit and Knatter group please contact Lisa on rvsknitknattermitcheldean@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk