Blog. Hospitality Golden Friends – Shining the light on our amazing ‘HA Heroes’.
June 5, 2020 | Author: Jeremy Gibson
In addition to launching our emergency fundraising campaign in the wake of COVID-19, we've also been working to support our Golden Friends during lockdown. A feat that simply wouldn't have been possible without the support of our volunteers. In today's blog my colleague Cathie Brennan who runs the scheme pays tribute to our volunteers.
Over to Cathie.....
National Volunteers Week gives us the perfect platform on which to shout loudly about how much we appreciate all of our volunteers, our ‘HA Heroes’, for without their commitment, enthusiasm and drive it would not have been possible to make contact with almost all our 1600 Golden Friends in under two weeks! So how did they help us achieve this amazing feat?
As the industry went into lockdown in mid-March, through our own network and via social media we called out to the industry to offer their time in order to support members of our Golden Friends Scheme for industry retirees.
We were overwhelmed by the response and offers of support from so many amazing people who wanted to offer their time to volunteer with us and help us deliver much needed practical and emotional support to so many of our Golden Friends who were beginning to feel the effects of those early weeks of isolation, whilst knowing all too well that the hospitality industry itself was really struggling with uncertainty too.
By way of background, Hospitality Action’s Golden Friends scheme exists to support anyone who is of/or nearing retirement age and has worked in our industry for 5 years or more across their working life.
Members receive birthday and other cards, invitations to attend social events to meet up with other retirees, a very popular regular newsletter and further benefit from the the opportunity to build telephone friendships with one of our many volunteer telephone befrienders
As lockdown began, the wellbeing of this group was uppermost in our minds, and this is where our amazing volunteers come into their own.
At a time when our industry retirees needed us more than ever we were, with the help of our ‘hospitality heroes’, we were able to reach out to our Golden Friends to say “hello” and to check to see if they needed our help.
By giving their time to us during this incredibly difficult time and helping us phone almost 1600 Golden Friends, our volunteers have comforted, reassured and listened to our scheme members. many of whom were suffering stress and anxiety from having to self-isolate and missing support from and precious time with their loved ones. Volunteers reported any concerns back to the charity about what type of support individuals were in need of so that HA team could ensure help was provided as fast as possible.
HA was therefore able to connect our Golden Friends with local support groups for emergency food parcels, prescription collection services and even dog walking services, but more importantly much needed social interaction was provided via these regular catch ups between our volunteer ‘call buddies’ and our Golden Friends helping to ease their sense of loneliness and isolation. The offers of a ‘call buddy’ were so warmly received by Golden Friends and friendships are blossoming, with these calls, for some, providing a much needed lifeline to the outside world.
For others, they are an opportunity to chat regularly about shared interests, reminisce and swap hospitality stories and comment on world events. Each one unique, yet vitally important in helping to reduce that sense of detachment from what is happening in the wider world at the moment. Volunteers have reported the benefits of these new friendships, both in person as well as on social media, while Golden Friends have shared their delight in having someone new to talk to on a regular basis:
Our Volunteers love calling their Golden Friends.
"First phone call to @HospAction Golden Friends. Lord oh I got a belter. So wonderful to speak to these absolute legends. Certainly will continue this long after WFH! We @EvolveStaff are privileged to be a part of this."
"Absolutely loved supporting the #goldenfriends initiative that @HospAction run. Having spoken to several people today, they cannot speak highly enough of the work you do. A real lifeline and I see even more value in supporting @HospAction than ever before. Xx"
"I've just finished phoning @HospAction #GoldenFriends … I loved being involved; the people I spoke to know and love the Newsletter, love receiving a card in the mail and they really appreciated us phoning them. There are many reasons to donate to HA if you can."
Feedback from our Golden Friends.
“I make sure I go out and socialise in normal times so to have someone to chat to when I’m now on my own at home is just wonderful – I love talking to people, I am a hospitality person after all!”
“Thank you to you all at Hospitality Action and everything you are doing. When I go outside on my doorstep to clap tonight, I will be clapping for you all too as you doing important work.”
“That fact that you cared enough to call me to see if I am ok means so much to me – you have no idea how much. I will always remember your kindness to me. Thank you.”
It is worth repeating that it would simply not have been possible to provide both the practical and emotional support that we have been able to offer to so many Golden Friends so quickly had it not been for the energy and dedication of our new, as well as our more seasoned, volunteers. To each and every one of our volunteers who enabled our small charity’s outreach programme to help so many, we would like to say a huge ‘Thank you’ to you all!
The Hospitality Industry have united together in so many ways during these unusual times and this was yet another example of the industry’s capacity for kindness and support and in this instance, to give back to those who have given so much to our industry before us.
Want to know more about volunteering with Hospitality Action to support our Golden Friends scheme? Please email Scheme Coordinator, Cathie Brennan at email@example.com for more information.