Jade provides a lifeline to older people at bistro social enterprise

As part of our work for Volunteers’ Week, we’re profiling the efforts of people who help others at social enterprises. This time, we’re looking at the work of a young woman called Jade, who helps out at Age Connects Torfaen (ACT).

We got to speak to Jade as she was taking tea and biscuits into a group of older people, who were attending a Friday morning IT group at the Widdershins Centre. Jade works as a volunteer in ACT’s bistro, which operates as a social enterprise. A number of ACT’s befriending hubs and clubs are catered for by the bistro, which produces fresh meals every day.

Jade told us that she started out as a trainee last year and asked to stay on as a volunteer, until she found a new job. She serves customers, taking orders and payment, and checking stock. Jade told us that she has acquired new skills since being a volunteer at Age Connects Torfaen, met new people and increased in confidence. She said she enjoys talking to the customers and gets on well with older people. Jade told us about one older gentleman, who comes to the bistro on his own, and how she always talks and listens to him as she is his main contact during the week.

Jade has enjoyed her volunteering so much that she hopes to continue even when she does find a new job.

We then spoke to Tracey, who is ACT’s Compliance Manager. Tracey oversees a number of the organisation’s services, including the bistro.

Tracey told us how the bistro provides a chargeable service and that volunteers help to complement that service. ‘It’s not just about providing a meal’ she told us, ‘people come in for support and a chat’.

Tracey said that people miss Jade on the rare occasions that she is unable to come in. Tracey told us that she started out as a volunteer at Age Connects Torfaen twenty-two years ago, so understands what employers look for when people come forward to volunteer.

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