At 17 years old, media student Amy Boon is one of Brendoncare’s youngest volunteers. She usually helps out every week at ‘Penny’s Friendship Club’, which meets at St. Mary’s Church in Ferndown, Dorset. During the temporary closure of the clubs, she has been supporting the club members.
The club, which offers fun, friendship and company to older people, has been a big part of Amy’s family life since it began in 2007. Named after a local lady, Penny, who used to take in washing to earn money to feed and support her family, the club is a lifeline for its members, many of whom live alone. Amy’s grandparents, Roy and Shirley, are the club leaders, while she and her mother Sarah are also a part of the regular volunteer team who chat to members, organise refreshments and activities, and have been providing vital contact and support regularly throughout the coronavirus lockdown.
Amy Boon said,
“My story of volunteering with Brendoncare is very individual. Penny’s Friendship Club has been a big part of my life for a very long time. I first visited the club in June 2012 with my grandparents, Roy and Shirley, who also volunteer at Penny’s, to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We celebrated with entertainers and a street party style set-up. At the time I was nine years old, finishing my final year of first school; interacting with the members and helping out really gave me a boost in confidence.
“I can still remember this day, eight years down the line, as this was the first time I met many of our still current members. One of our long-standing members, Mary P, is still referred to fondly as ‘Tiara Mary’ by me and my grandparents, after she offered me her own tiara, which she was wearing in honour of the Queen on that day!
“As the years went by, I spent my Wednesdays at the club whenever I could. From summer holidays to half terms, it gave me something to look forward to. Now aged 17, I much prefer spending my time volunteering, as this brings me so much enjoyment and happiness, as opposed to your typical idea of a teenager, shut in their bedroom spending hours on a gaming console!
“Over the last few years, I have flourished at Penny’s Friendship Club. As my school years are coming to an end, I can now spend every Wednesday volunteering with my family. I have been able to use my experience to make entertainment productions for our members, such as ‘An Afternoon at the Musicals’, ‘Musical Memories’ and ‘A Taste of Wartime at Penny’s’, some of which have featured on Brendoncare’s Facebook page. My media knowledge allows me to create this entertainment for the members at no extra cost to the club.
“Currently, we are keeping our Friendship club active during lockdown. I have been involved in shopping for members who are not able to get to the shops, and even delivering goody parcels to our members to let them know we are still there for them. Even a socially distanced chat not only brightens their day, but mine too.”
Brendoncare Clubs is a well established and trusted community service, offering a vital lifeline for 1,700 older people in Hampshire and Dorset, through 94 clubs across 40 locations during the week and over the weekend. The clubs are temporarily closed at present, but when running they provide a friendly, fun, relaxed and supportive environment where older people can meet other club members, make friends and develop strong peer support networks.
The Penny’s Friendship Club usually meets every Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm, at St Mary’s Church Hall, Church Road, Ferndown, Dorset, BH22 9EU. When the club is running, every week there is some activity, such as an entertainer, speaker, games, tea parties and outings.