For some COPE Galway volunteers, one role within the organisation quickly leads to another.
Take Martin, who first started volunteering two years ago. Semi-retired and working for himself, he “saw an ad in the paper and decided to pop in.” His first time volunteering, he lent a hand at the lunch club in Salthill around Christmas time.
Each Wednesday, he drives seven older clients from their place of residence to the local supermarket to do their shopping. On Thursdays, he drives lunch club attendees to St James GAA Hall in Mervue and after lunch, he can also be found in the kitchen doing the washing up.
“It was one day a week for a while then it went to two days,” Martin said. “Now, whatever else I have to do, I always keep Wednesday and Thursday free.”
In addition to his biweekly volunteer commitments, at the beginning of every month Martin picks up and sorts food deliveries for other COPE Galway services.
As Martin was interviewed about his volunteer roles with COPE Galway, clients joked that they would soon see him in the newspaper again… A lifelong runner, Martin was recently photographed for placing first in the over-70 category for the National Masters Cross Country Championships. For someone with twelve marathons under his belt, a jaunt to the supermarket might sound like no distance at all, but the weekly trips are a valuable service for older clients.
The minibus gives clients an opportunity to maintain their weekly routines and shop independently. One client said it is important to her that she cooks for herself, but without the outings she would not be able to make her own choices. The accessibility of the service makes it easier and more comfortable to leave the house.
Even if they are not out for the big shop, some clients take advantage of the Wednesday morning outing to catch up with friends over tea or coffee while the rest of the group fills their trolleys.
When the group finishes with their Wednesday shopping, Martin helps them with their bags, and then assists those who need help taking their seats.
From the moment they are picked up at the door to Martin’s help bringing heavy bags upstairs, the weekly shopping outing is an example of the kind of straightforward, useful service that makes a world of difference to older clients who want to maintain their independence.
*Many thanks to Medtronic Galway for the bus!