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Age UK Wiltshire building a volunteer community

This week is Volunteers’ Week, a time to celebrate the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Here at Get Out Get Active (GOGA), we are celebrating our volunteers by sharing a series of stories. Today’s feature is from our delivery partner Wiltshire and Swindon Sports Partnership, who teamed up with Age UK Wiltshire to support volunteers differently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Older people in a seated exercise class

Age UK Wiltshire run Fitness and Friendship Clubs across the county. With a focus on older people, the clubs help people to stay active and independent for longer. They offer a mixture of low impact functional exercise and Tai Chi. The aim is to engage older disabled and non-disabled people in gentle physical activity. Due to the coronavirus pandemic all Fitness and Friendship Clubs are currently online, but plans are being made for face-to-face classes to resume soon.

The Fitness and Friendship Clubs are run by volunteers, known as club leaders. Each club leader completes training before they can deliver a class. They are trained in Low Impact Function Exercise (LIFE) and First Aid. To help boost recruitment of volunteers, Age UK Wiltshire recently developed an online version of LIFE training and will deliver the first session soon.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Age UK Wiltshire continued to engage and support their volunteer club leaders. Before the pandemic, all volunteers would meet twice a year for a training refresher and to learn new exercises. But after everything moved to online delivery due to lockdown restrictions, Age UK Wiltshire created a new volunteer forum. The forum can take place online or face-to-face and gives volunteers the opportunity to connect with each other, discuss new ideas, and socialise.

The first online forum took place on Monday 10 May. With club leaders and volunteers spread out across Wiltshire, meeting online enabled more people to join in. Moving forward the Age UK Wiltshire volunteer forum will run bi-monthly alongside other training opportunities.

It was lovely to catch up and meet other volunteers. I think the online meetings are a good idea and will hopefully grow in the future. I am sure there will be plenty of ideas and queries regarding the Fitness and Friendship Clubs as they begin to open up again.

Age UK Wiltshire Volunteer

We are looking forward to bringing our Fitness and Friendship Club volunteers together to create a community where they are able to discuss any new ideas or queries they have. We are hopeful that this forum will give volunteers more support in their roles and help them to help older people in Wiltshire stay active, healthy and independent for longer.

Carole, Fitness and Friendship Senior Project Worker

 This story is part of our Volunteers’ Week series showcasing how GOGA volunteers are supporting and engaging some of the UK’s least active disabled and non-disabled people in inclusive and fun activities.

About Get Out Get Active

Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is a programme that supports disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together. Activity Alliance is the creator and lead partner. The programme is funded by Spirit of 2012, Sport England and London Marathon Charitable Trust.

Find out more about Get Out Get Active here.