Words by Abi Scaife
King Charles III’s charitable efforts are well known - in fact, Smiley News has written about his amazing charity work, his redirecting crown funds to the public, and his relationship with climate activism.
As such, there has been a huge push to give back to charities - whether through donations or volunteering, in celebration of the King’s coronation weekend in May. One charity, in particular, is very keen to give back - and help people on the weekend of the King’s coronation.
Independent Age is a national charity supporting older people with financial hardship. There is a number of ways you can volunteer with Independent Age, including as a Community Volunteer, and a Get Involved volunteer.
Rosemary is 66, lives in Nottingham and has been volunteering with Independent Age, since 2017. Over the last few years, including through the COVID-19 pandemic, Rosemary has connected with a few older people for a few hours every week.
“What prompted me to want to get involved was the fact I was really concerned about, loneliness, particularly in elderly people,” Rosemary tells Smiley News. “As people get older, changes in health and their social connections are probably the things that render them more lonely. I spent quite a lot of time with my parents and my husband's parents in hospital, and I saw a lot of people who didn't seem to have very many visitors and who were going through all of that on their own … I think it brought that home to me, really.”
Over the coronation weekend, Independent Age is holding a community lunch to enable older people to come together to pay tribute to both King Charles III and the late Queen Elizabeth II.
“Recently, I've started to do a little bit of work supporting community lunches. That was really what took me along to the Jubilee, the Queen's celebration last year. And then community lunches in between, and I'm hoping that I'm going to be able to support the coronation event Independent Age is holding locally in May as well.”
For elderly people who may not have the opportunity to see people regularly, community lunches, particularly those around celebrations like the Jubilee and coronation, are an amazing way to help them make new friends, find community, and socialise. Sometimes, it’s just about giving them something to leave the house for, so that they can see somewhere new.
“These sorts of big public events are really significant. I think sometimes when you're very aware of them … you're aware that people are out there and they're doing things … these sorts of events can sometimes magnify your own loneliness or isolation,” explains Rosemary. “So, I think it's quite nice that there is something that they can go to [where] the atmosphere will be nice and light-hearted.”
Ultimately, Independent Age and its volunteers are hoping to support older people through the coronation weekend - from keeping them company to assisting at community lunches, and so much more. While many people around the country will be getting together to celebrate the coronation or just a long weekend, it is people like Rosemary that remind us that so many others, maybe even your neighbours, might be alone and in need of a friend.
“You don't have to be part of an organisation to actually just say hello to somebody,” says Rosemary. “Society has changed and sometimes there are just little things that we can do in everyday life … to maybe notice and say hello to people and just stop for a little chat if it feels appropriate. The more and more I do this, the more I realise how important it is.”
If you want to support Independent Age by donating, or volunteering like Rosemary, you can do so on the Independent Age website.