The WRVS is entering an exciting time in its long history, and it’s doing it in Falkirk.
For decades, the national charity has been at the forefront of delivering services that give older people the support and confidence to allow them to remain happy and healthy in their own home.
With over 190 volunteers registered in the Falkirk area, the WRVS provide meals on wheels, staff cafes in community buildings, run social clubs and operate trolley services and recovery teams.
But now, it’s about to embark on a new wave of community involvement.
The WRVS has secured funding for new services which will further assist local senior citizens to remain active and independent, stay in their own home and make them less susceptible to social isolation and loneliness.
The new ‘Community Transport and Good Neighbours Service’ allows older people to book volunteer transport to take them to medical appointments, the shops or to a lunch club.
Using their own cars, volunteers will provide transport for older people who may want to go to the hairdressers, visit friends, or attend social events.
The scheme has successfully been tried and tested in other areas such as Stirling, and now it’s coming to Falkirk.
Glenda McWatt, locality manager for WRVS in the Forth Valley said: “I’m delighted the WRVS has been successful with a funding application to the Partnership Innovation Fund, Falkirk and we shall shortly be setting up a Community Transport and Good Neighbours service.
“The new services will be delivered in the same way as our other services, by our hard-working volunteers, who will generously donate their time to offer practical assistance to older people living within their communities, helping them to remain active and independent, reduce isolation and allowing them to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible.
“At a time when there’s much about budget cuts, I’m delighted the important and significant benefits of the valuable services we deliver to older people has been recognised.
“This is a very exciting time for us that will not only enable us to deliver practical services to older people living within the Falkirk area but it has also allowed us to create two new full-time staff positions, along with a range of new volunteering opportunities available now in areas where we have previously had no suitable opportunities.”
The Partnership Innovation Fund is part of a multi-million pound plan to revolutionise how Scotland cares for its growing number of elderly people.
The Scottish Government recently launched the Change Fund for Older People to concentrate on finding sustainable ways of helping pensioners stay in a homely setting.
Around £600,000 has been allocated to the local fund which will be managed by CVS Falkirk.
The new service is due to launch in Falkirk next month, and brings with it a massive recruitment drive as the WRVS attempts to sign up more loyal volunteers.
It is this band of selfless volunteers who have been the backbone of the service, but it’s not just those in need who benefit.
Volunteers themselves make new friends, find a sense of purpose and often experience a huge confidence boost by being active volunteers.
Husband and wife, Nancy and Billy Jardine from Newcarron have been volunteering for over 30 years.
Nancy (75) said: “We love dealing with the public and we have made so many friends.
“On the days we’ve not volunteering, we kind of wonder what we’re going to do with ourselves, so it really gives us something to look forward to.”
Billy (78) added: “It’s really a labour of love. We love talking to people and meeting people.”
The WRVS believe a key part of the new service will be linking up services which are currently separate.
Glenda added: “If someone registers for transport, we can talk to them and see what their other needs are in the long term, and let them know what’s available.
“It’s a really positive thing and will result in a better service, and also stop people slipping through the net.
“The new service is really exciting and will add to the excellent services already provided by the WRVS.
“Many people think the WRVS is only for older people, and while most of our volunteers are older ladies, it’s very much open to everyone.
“This is especially now as we’re going to have a greater role in the community, so we’ll need a variety of volunteers to help us.”
Anyone interested should contact CVS in Falkirk on (01324) 692000.