Grahame is Chair of Trustees at Spark Somerset and has a career spanning health and social care, education, consulting and financial services. He is a member of the Somerset Integrated Care Board and is passionate about the value of collaboration with the local VCSE.
Here, he shares with us why volunteering is so important to him and how it led him to join the Spark Somerset Board.
“My volunteering story began in health and social care. Whilst working at Weston General Hospital, I supported the volunteers there and soon realised that, in many areas, the hospital would grind to a halt without their smiling, can do approach.
“This highlighted to me the range of voluntary roles in health and social care and so, when the pandemic hit, I volunteered at local vaccination centres for the Red Cross, NHS and Festival Medical Services, and became a Covid Community Champion with Spark Somerset. Through these roles I was able to assure, amuse, listen, inform and share with people who were unsure.
“It's great to meet so many people, both volunteers and the public - to share a moment or a story which demonstrates how human we all are.
“Subsequently, I have established a Good Neighbours scheme in my local community, working with a small band of volunteers to support people to go shopping, collect prescriptions, attend medical appointments and share a cup of coffee.
“Thinking of others reduces your own woes, helps you focus on the benefits you can give and share with others, and creates opportunities to meet other, like minded people."
“Charities across Somerset are being asked to support more residents, often those who have particularly struggled with the impacts of the pandemic. As such, demand for Spark Somerset’s services has increased and the Spark Somerset team have excelled in getting to be at the negotiating table, especially around the health and social care agenda, and being listened to as they make the case for the work of our Somerset charities.
“That has resulted in further activities being commissioned by the NHS and Somerset County Council which have been shared directly with the charities we have been able to represent.”
Katherine Nolan, CEO of Spark Somerset, comments, “Grahame’s appointment is a perfect fit and will greatly support us and the sector as we work together to make sure the residents of Somerset get the support they need when they need it.”
Grahame continues, “I hope my experience and expertise will help Katherine and her team as we amplify the voice of local voluntary community and social enterprise organisations.
"I consider it a great privilege to work with the Spark Somerset board and staff team, for whom the local VCSE sector and the population it serves is at the heart of all they do."
If Grahame's story has inspired you to get involved in volunteering, click on the link below.