Can you imagine a world without volunteers? We couldn’t.

Without our volunteers, we couldn’t run our Golden Friends scheme.

Our Golden Friends get-togethers enable industry retirees from all walks of life, who usually dine alone, to socialise without discrimination and meet like-minded people.

Without our volunteers we would have no one to meet and greet Golden Friends at our lunches and teas – no one to spot the guest who is on their own and might be a little nervous, welcome them with a friendly smile, introduce them to other members and get them chatting like they’ve been coming for years.

Here’s proof from a Golden Friend:

“My husband & I had worked together in the licenced trade for some years.
When he was diagnosed with vascular dementia it wasn’t even a question that I would care for him. As the years progressed his personality changes became very distressing and at times heart-breaking.

For me, Golden Friend lunches were an escape to a place where no-one knew my personal circumstances – a place where I could chat and laugh with people my own age and share past stories from the industry, in what felt like a guilt free environment. After my husband passed away the lunches are my happy place through difficult times and a chance to make and continue friendships.”

Continue reading “Can you imagine a world without volunteers? We couldn’t.”

Why supporting Hospitality Action needn’t be about putting your hand in your pocket …

Seven years ago, I didn’t know Dora Somerville. Now I count her as a good friend. We’ve never met (Dora lives in Wales, I live in London), but we speak regularly on the phone. You see, Dora is my HA phone friend.

Dora is very proud of her children and grandchildren, and keeps me posted on what they’re up to. Sometimes she reminisces about her life in the WAAF during the Second World War, or about her career in catering in Manchester. She often talks about her husband Hughie, whom she lost a few years ago.

Despite her fading eyesight and mobility challenges, Dora is always stoical and upbeat. She’s wise and she’s proud. And she makes me laugh.

In return, I tell Dora about my wife, Susie, and my family. And I update her on all the people I meet, and the restaurants and hotels I experience, within the hospitality industry. Dora likes to hear about Susie’s horse riding lessons, and about our holidays in Cornwall and overseas. Sometimes she even laughs at my jokes.

Dora has the odd ‘off’ day – don’t we all – and I’ll cheer her up. Other times, she’ll offer me counsel on some issue I’m grappling with. Last year, she was sympathetic and supportive as I dealt with the loss of my mother and father.

It’s important to say that Dora is anything but lonely. Her family dotes on her and is supportive and attentive. I think our phone friendship just offers her another perspective, another point of focus. Another friend.

Growing old is hard. Family and friends pass away, the ways of life you’ve known change beyond recognition, and it’s easy to think the world has forgotten about you. Reaching out to someone elderly is a great way of reassuring them that’s not the case, that their views, memories and lives still matter.

Befriending Dora has enriched my life over the past seven years, and I’d like to think she’d say the same about befriending me.