A volunteer manager from another charity told me they are going to profile their volunteers. Age, occupation, various other social demographics. They want to understand what type of person chooses to volunteer for them.
The idea of doing that with Help Musicians UK volunteers makes me smile; our 25 Musicians Supporters are all so completely different from each other. They include a jazz singer, a journalist, a photographer, and a choirmaster. They are retirees and workers, they are students and have doctorates, and together they span six generations of people from all over the UK.
What they do have in common is a love of music, and a boundless enthusiasm for giving their time to visit musicians. For me, it’s been surprising and touching to see how they will often help musicians in thoughtful and unexpected ways.
David visits a jazz pianist in a care home, and he hadn’t heard his own music in years. David found some of his recordings online, put them onto a CD and the musician and the staff heard his fabulous playing and singing from 40 years ago. His carers treat him differently now, he’s not just a resident in a chair.
Michael visits a retired music teacher, she enjoys attending concerts but her failing health and memory can make it difficult. She was in the audience, a few rows in front of Michael at a recital recently. He spoke to her afterwards and she was unsure of how to get home. He went out of his way to escort her to the station, and make sure she got on the right train. I should say that in doing so he missed his last bus, and throughout the evening it was raining heavily. I’m pleased to say he finally got a cab home (and we happily covered the cost later on).
This year our volunteers have already made 45 visits to musicians in their homes, and I think both parties get a great deal out of this time together.
Volunteers get to meet a fascinating group of people, musicians are never dull, and hear about their lives, careers, and the odd scandalous anecdote about the big names in music (all strictly confidential, sorry).
In return, musicians who are socially isolated or have feelings of loneliness get to spend time with volunteers who are genuinely interested in them. Often older people will only be seen by people who want to talk about their ‘care needs’. Our volunteers want to talk about anything and everything with musicians.
So, to mark this National Volunteers Week, on behalf of the musicians they visit and from everyone here at Help Musicians UK, I want to say an enormous thank you to our volunteer Musicians Supporters. They’re an inspirational group of people – I guess that’s something else they have in common.Back