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There are no current vacancies with CareLink, please check back later.

If you’re interested in a volunteer position please see below.

BECOME A VOLUNTEER

How much time will I need to commit?

We ask for applications from people who can commit to a minimum of two hours per week for a period of no less than six months. If you are volunteering as a university medical or social work student placement, there will be a specific number of hours that need to completed as part of your coursework.

Who can apply?

Anybody can apply, although there is a minimum age limit of 16 due to the nature of the work, and references will be requested. We welcome volunteers of all ages and backgrounds; our clients are themselves varied with different interests and experiences, so it’s nice to have just the right befriender to match them closely to. We encourage anyone who has suffered with loneliness themselves and can use that experience and learning for the benefit of others.

What attributes and skills do I need?

  • be friendly and approachable
  • have good communication skills
  • have a caring and non-judgmental nature
  • be able to maintain confidentiality
  • value the knowledge, experience and opinions of those you are befriending
  • reliability is a must because our clients rely on their regular calls
  • computer skills are desirable but not essential as training will be given

What does a volunteer telephone befriender do exactly?

As a CareLink telephone befriender you would have a friendly, meaningful chat on the phone with CareLink’s older, vulnerable clients, as a way of keeping them in touch with the outside world, and showing them that someone cares. As you got to know those you phone, you would be able to pick up and pass on any concerns or changes early, so help can be given before crisis hits. You may also have the opportunity to help with one-off events such as trips out with service users.

Will I get training?

Absolutely! Initial training is two three-hour training sessions to ensure that all volunteers understand the aims and objectives of the organisation and their roles and responsibilities within it. We also use this time to make sure that you have the skills and knowledge you need to be ready to make calls and record notes.

There will also be ongoing training, a rolling training programme for all volunteers offering relevant and varied opportunities.

What do volunteers get out of it?

Our volunteers regularly tell us that they benefit from volunteering with us in a number of ways. You will no doubt find some benefits in common such as:

  • learning new skills and enhancing your CV
  • increasing confidence and self-esteem
  • making new friends and being a member of an enthusiastic team
  • a sense of well-being which comes from giving back to your community
  • the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference

What difference will I be making?

The call befriender role is at the very heart of the service we provide, which has become an essential part of our clients’ lives. By making the calls to someone regularly, you are personally helping to break the chains of loneliness for that person. You are showing them that someone cares by providing a listening ear. And you will help them to build confidence and a system of support and friendship by encouraging them to develop social networks and to access useful services.

By helping us provide this service you are also directly involved in relieving the ever greater burden on adult social care services, and reducing unnecessary demand on and health provision throughout Stoke, as well as building stronger community social networks.

What support will I have?

A member of staff will always be available to give you continuous ongoing support, advice and guidance. You will also be assigned a CareLink supervisor, who will offer you regular support in carrying out your role., and a mentor will also be available.

VOLUNTEER CASE STUDIES

Just as every one of our clients is different, so is every volunteer. If you’re unsure of whether volunteering at CareLink is the right fit for you, take a look at some of their stories as they discuss their motivations for volunteering, the experiences they’ve had and what they’ve gained from being with us.

SUE’S STORY

I had joined the CareLink as someone receiving the calls after I’d gone through a really tough time in my life and was suffering from withdrawal, depression and declining mental health. As part of me getting back to my old self, I’ve found it so beneficial to do something that takes me away from my own thoughts for a time and to focus on helping others who may still be in the position I was in when I needed the phone calls.

I have support from the CareLink team still when I feel as though I might be slipping back into myself, and have learnt new skills, which I’m proud of. And of course, the people that I call say they are cheered up when I call. Sometimes they’re down and I offer them encouragement and comfort, and it’s a real lift to hear how they have sometimes transformed during a call.

Sometimes we need to be there to be a shoulder to cry on. Our clients struggle with their own ill health or concerns for a loved one, loss of friends and loneliness. One client that I call regularly is currently awaiting detox treatment for an addiction and I’m helping to keep her spirits up.

There is a responsibility that comes with what we do. But more often than not I find myself chatting about holidays, family – and bingo! They enjoy the chat and so do I; it’s a win-win!

I have encouraged a family member to come along and volunteer as well because she saw CareLink helping me when no one else was there. As an added bonus, I’ve also made friends with other volunteers and I’m growing in confidence all the time.

NICKIE’S STORY

I have always loved working and spending time with older people, which comes from having worked in residential care homes over the years. Now I’m a professional carer of a different sort – to a young foster daughter with complex needs – but I’ve never lost the enjoyment in nattering to older people. Especially since my nana passed away a few years ago, I really miss gossiping with her about everything and nothing.

 

On the calls we chat about lots of different things such as family, reminiscences of younger days, day-to-day life and hobbies. One person likes to talk about the latest episode of Most Haunted on TV and another about decorating.

They all have different quirks and differences, which make them fabulous and enjoyable to chat to!

I’m a voracious knitter and crocheter, and one of my ladies I always end up talking to about knitting patterns of what we’re working at the moment. I sometimes even take my projects in and discuss them with her while I’m working on them!

Another gent recently lost his wife. He has been struggling, not only with his grief, but also with guilt arising from the fact that she hadn’t been at home in her last days; she had been in a residential care home suffering from dementia and hadn’t recognised him for some time. He’s doing better now and has thanked me more than once for being there when the one thing he needed most in the world was for someone to listen to him while he spoke about it.

Volunteering at CareLink gives me a huge sense of achievement because you can definitely tell the huge impact that being there for all our friends makes. They regularly say how much they appreciate the calls and look forward to hearing from us. They often sound down when I call but by the end their mood is much happier and I leave them laughing.

I would definitely encourage others to volunteer. It makes such a difference to the clients and the volunteers themselves. You get to meet new people throughout the community and have lovely chats with the clients, learning something new each time. I love the flexibility because I can fit my time at CareLink around my role as a foster carer, and it helps me feel good that I am doing something useful for someone else.

BILL’S STORY

I had always planned to volunteer when I retired. But I’m in my late 80s now and, as inevitably happens, my social circle has shrunken with the loss of my wife and a number of my dearest friends. And so, with more time on my hands than ever, I felt called to volunteer at CareLink after hearing Saltbox’s Lloyd Cooke give a talk at Swanbank Church where I was already coordinating the Tuesday club for older embers.

Of course you can never replace people that you have lost, but I feel strongly that being at CareLink has helped me forge meaningful new relationships with people, both with the staff and other volunteers and with those that I speak to over the phone. We talk quite a bit about how the city looked many years ago and what we would get up to as kids. You end up finding that you’ve got lots of common ground with folks – and it makes us feel young again! I’m also keen on wildlife and there’s one person I talk to who shares my interest, which always makes for a great chat.

When you get to our age, quite a lot of people only get services coming to help with physical care needs, but there’s still a real need for friendship that can go unanswered.

There is one client who moved into a new home. But her real need probably started after she’d moved in because with no family support around her she found it hard to adjust or to even motivate herself to unpack. That meant that she didn’t feel relaxed and it was becoming a vicious cycle of stress. I supported, helped her to focus on herself and encouraged her to unpack and settle in properly. We got there in the end, and she often mentions to me how grateful she is to have had that constant presence at the end of the phone during such a difficult time.

There are plenty more people who could contribute to their local community but do not often know they have skills that could be beneficial to others. The skills I acquired through my work and general life experience are still there and are best used in the service of helping others less fortunate than myself. Older volunteers bring a dynamic outlook on the world and are just as suitably skilled to help others, so I will continue to reach out to my retired friends and acquaintances to encourage them to see if they can help too.

SARAH’S STORY

I have always worked with older people in my previous role as a carer but had recently lost my job and felt my confidence and self-esteem slipping. I decided that getting involved in CareLink – a service that helps others by making a difference in their lives – would help me to build myself back up and give me an opportunity to gain new skills that might help me back into work.

Plus, volunteering has helped me to keep some structure to my week which you miss when you’re not working.

I’ve worked with older people for a long time, but I’m still surprised by the range of conversations that I have. As well as all the usual chitchat about daily goings on and trips to the doctor, I can cover anything from watching kids through the window making mud pies to baking real pies! One client is a train and bus enthusiast so likes to talk about them each call, which is actually quite interesting.

I’ve just about to start a new job but I will keep in touch; the staff and volunteers are a nice bunch of people who work well as a team and I’ve made some genuine friends.

If anyone lacks confidence or they have been out of work for a while, I would definitely tell them that volunteering for CareLink will provide them with something useful and worthwhile to do with their time.

Apply to Be A Volunteer

CareLink Volunteers

Make a CONNECTION >

If you know someone over 65 who struggles with social exclusion, search our community directory map for events, groups and services that can help nearby.

Make a DIFFERENCE >

There are many ways you can make a difference to older people who live near you, from volunteering to make phone calls to organising activities.

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