By Hollie White, Regional Fundraiser for the South East
This Volunteers Week, Dementia UK would like to shine a light on the wonderful work of our Volunteer Ambassadors, who continue to support the charity during lockdown.
There are currently 83 Volunteer Ambassadors spread across four regions of the UK, working closely alongside the Regional Fundraising Team to represent Dementia UK within their communities. They are passionate about Dementia UK and committed to raising awareness of Admiral Nurses.
Volunteer Ambassadors regularly participate in activities such as giving talks and presentations in their communities, attending cheque presentations, organising fundraising events and attending cheer points at events.
Our Volunteer Ambassadors are from all walks of life, yet they are united in their commitment to furthering Dementia UK’s vision through volunteering on behalf of the charity. They often are, or have been, carers of people affected by dementia.
A natural progression
For some long-term supporters becoming a Volunteer Ambassador felt like a “natural progression.”
Jan Burt started fundraising for Dementia UK in 2010, after hearing television personality John Suchet talk about his experiences of Admiral Nursing.
Jan, who lives in Hertfordshire, said: “When my husband was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, there was not a lot of help and support and I had to find my way through the myriad of websites to get information.”
Motivated by her experiences, and the desire to promote Admiral Nursing to improve the lives of those living with dementia and their families, Jan became a Volunteer Ambassador when the scheme was first introduced in 2016.
Talking of her role as a Volunteer Ambassador, she said: “I am totally dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Admiral Nurses. I stepped up to the challenge and will continue to do whatever is within my power to make a difference.”
Adapting and being proactive during the coronavirus pandemic
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Volunteer Ambassadors have been proactive in adapting their approaches to volunteering in line with government guidance; some have taken this opportunity to think about their own ‘networks’ and have even written to local MPs and people of influence to promote Admiral Nursing.
Volunteer Ambassadors have also been engaging in fundraising at home activities, such as Declutter and Donate, Glam Up and Give and The 2.6 Challenge.
Angela Brookes, a Volunteer Ambassador from Staffordshire, said: “I’ve never felt more connected to the charity than I have during lockdown.
“Having early engagements on new initiatives has been exciting, providing opportunities to be creative and connect with others in a variety of ways, including through social media.
“It has encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone and truly lifted my spirits during these extraordinary times.”
Since lockdown, the Dementia UK Regional Fundraising Team have made the most of technology to unite Volunteer Ambassadors virtually across the UK. In April, Volunteer Ambassadors in each region came together using Zoom to enjoy a ‘Virtual Brew’ – an opportunity to discuss creative ways to continue their important work during lockdown while connecting with each other.
Anna McNee, Regional Fundraiser for Central England, said: “The Virtual Brew was a great success. It offered us a place for volunteers to reconnect and catch up informally, and highlighted what a close-knit group our volunteers are.”
She added: “Our Volunteer Ambassadors are helping us plan ahead post lockdown. Some have even created exciting content to be used in future campaigns.
“We can’t thank them enough for everything they are doing. They are making a huge difference and I am proud to work with such a dedicated team of volunteers from all across the UK.”
Despite these challenging times, the Regional Fundraising Team are going ahead with their planned Volunteer Ambassador meet-ups in June (again through Zoom), and are continuing to recruit and train new Volunteer Ambassadors virtually during lockdown.
This Volunteers Week, we would like to say a huge thank you to our amazing Volunteer Ambassadors for everything they do to support Dementia UK and families facing dementia.