Volunteers Week 2018

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Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution that individuals make to charitable organisations across the UK. Here at Saltbox, our volunteers give up their own time to help support us across the broad range of services we provide. This week we speak with our CareLink Volunteer Co-ordinator, Zi Makhiwa. Having worked at Saltbox for just over nine years, Zi is responsible for overseeing 30+ volunteers who in turn donate 370 hours a month towards our CareLink befriending service.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you end up working for Saltbox?

Having graduated in Law in 2007, I have had varied roles in my working life. I began as a meat packer then worked as a cashier, replenishing shelves at a supermarket, domiciliary carer then as an admin and care co-ordinator. I’ve also worked in Quality Control, Data Administration and in the mortgage department at a bank.  I came to Saltbox just over nine years ago after having to make a life-changing decision. I was only meant to be covering for a member of staff who was off sick for four weeks but have been here ever since.  My role is CareLink Volunteer Co-ordinator.  I enjoy working with people from all walks of life and enjoy listening to their life stories and what motivates them.

What does your day-to-day role involve?

I’m responsible for scheduling volunteers to ensure that our elderly CareLink clients receive their befriending telephone calls. I also support our volunteers in their roles and occasionally help them in their own lives too. When new volunteers join the team I oversee any recruitment and training requirements. I’m always encouraging them in their day-to-day activities at CareLink. This helps us to maintain an upbeat and exciting environment.  Happiness whilst carrying out your duties does translate over the phone and helps to provide an amazing and supportive befriending service.  Our clients often tell us they can hear a smiling voice over the phone.

What do you look for in a volunteer?

I look for someone who is friendly, caring, good at listening (very important!) and would like to help break up the monotony of the day for an older person who is lonely and isolated. Anyone interested in volunteering can call and speak to me at CareLink on 01782 810320.  Alternatively, they can fill an enquiry form on our website.  Here you will also find more stories from clients who will tell you about what a difference the service has made to them.

Have Saltbox got anything lined up to celebrate Volunteer week?

Oh yes, we do!  This year we decided to break away from the tradition of our usual ‘thank you’ meal. Instead, we’ll be taking our volunteers on a day trip to an amazing location – Carsington Water in Derbyshire.  We felt this would give them the opportunity to go somewhere a little different and also give them time to bond as a team.  They are all really looking forward to spending the day together and having a nice meal at the café there. I’m also looking forward to doing a spot of shopping!  We hope this shows our volunteers how much we appreciate all they do for CareLink. We really would not be able to support our clients as well as we do without our wonderful volunteers.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for plenty of photos and videos from our volunteer trip to Carsington Water!

Help W.A.V.E Goodbye to Loneliness

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Just before Easter our CareLink team leader Linda Stone spoke to BBC Radio Stoke’s Perry Spiller about Saltbox’s CareLink service and also the ‘Help W.A.V.E goodbye to loneliness’ campaign.

The W.A.V.E campaign is one of the actions by the Loneliness Strategy Group aimed at reducing loneliness and isolation across the city of Stoke-on-Trent. The goal of the campaign is to promote the involvement of whole communities in reducing risk factors and raising awareness by delivering the clear message that loneliness can be preventable. W.A.V.E breaks down as follows:

  • W – Who around you could be lonely? Keep an eye out for neighbours, friends and family who may be feeling lonely or isolated
  • A – Ask “Are you all right?” Take five minutes to chat and listen to them
  • V – Visit your local library to find out about activities and services that can help.
  • E – Everyone can play a part. Loneliness can significantly harm health, but little things like a friendly smile can make a BIG difference.

Regular updates about the campaign can be found by visiting the Healthy Stoke-on-Trent Facebook page.

BBC Radio Stoke have also been kind enough to provide audio from our interview, now available below via our YouTube channel.


Welcome to our new site!

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Welcome to the new Saltbox website and our dedicated section focusing on our CareLink service! 

Our upgraded site covers everything you need to know about how we provide befriending and welfare checks for vulnerable and isolated older people within our local communities.

First up, you can read all about the History of CareLink, detailing its early beginnings in 2007 on the back of a grant to successfully trial a telephone monitoring and befriending service in Stoke-on-Trent.

CareLink wouldn’t be what it is today without our amazing staff and volunteers. To celebrate this we’ve added a Team section where you can put names to faces of those who work so tirelessly behind the scenes, making everything possible.

For those of a statistical persuasion, you can also read about CareLink In Numbers. Here we give a high-level overview on the volume of clients and referrals we deal with, the number of calls we make (a massive 16,088 between during 2016/17) and also an indication of the money CareLink saves the NHS per year (£395,690 for 2016/17)

Our clients are always at the heart of everything we do at CareLink. In the new Our Friends section, you’ll be able to meet several of them, read their stories and see how our service has helped to change their lives for the better. We’ve also added a Media section where you can enjoy several videos and slideshows, revisiting 2017 day trips to places like Emma Bridgewater, Gladstone Pottery Museum and Westport Lake.

Finally, we’re always on the lookout for new volunteers, donations and fundraising to help keep CareLink moving forward. If you’d like to help make a difference by supporting local elderly, isolated and vulnerable people then we now have a Join The Team page complete with FAQs. There are also plenty of fundraising ideas in our Be a Fundraiser or Organiser section.

This is just a small sample of the new features available on our CareLink website. Feel free to have a look around and discover more. If you did have any further questions then please get in touch on our Contacts page, or visit Referrals if you know anybody who would benefit from the service.

CareLink Emma Bridgewater visit

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Throughout 2017 we’ve been taking our CareLink clients out on a series of heritage day trips. This week we made the short trek to the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent. Our clients enjoyed some lunch and also spent time learning how to paint their own plates in the decorating studio.

“The purpose of these trips is to give our clients the chance to get out and about” explained CareLink team leader Linda Stone. “A lot of them don’t always get the chance to meet with other people anymore. With us they have the opportunity to come out, socialise and enjoy a good day out”

CareLink client, Joyce, has been with the service for two or three years now. “I enjoy being a part of CareLink” she tells us. “We always have a good chat. I look forward to it. Otherwise, I might not see a soul all day.”

To hear more from our clients, staff and volunteers, we’ve put together a short video of the day, available below