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Christmas hampers delivered to elderly users of the Royal Voluntary Service

A simple gesture, which said so much, bought the spirit of Christmas to a number of the Royal Borough’s elderly this year.

Boxes filled with luxury festive food items were hand delivered to service users of the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) Carebank, part of the RVS Berkshire Hub.

The RVS aims to mobilise people to volunteer in order to support those in need as they age, in hospital and in the community.

The 42 elderly people in Maidenhead, Windsor and South Ascot who received the hampers benefit from the charity’s ‘Supporting you at Home’ service, which entails a visit from a volunteer once a week.

It might be to pop out to the shops, open the post, assist with light tasks, or just to have a cup of tea and a chat.

The Asda Foundation, which aims to transform communities and improve lives, donated the hampers to Supporting you at Home service users nationwide.

They were delivered by service users’ volunteers, or Liliana Illes, service manager RVS Carebank (Berkshire).

Liliana said: “Those people don’t get presents, they don’t have families, they don’t have close friends any more, so that might be the only present that they get.

“It’s not food, it’s the gesture, to know that someone is thinking of you.”

Don Seal, 90, a former editor of the Advertiser, said he used to like Christmas but that ‘things absolutely changed’ when he lost his wife 10 years ago.

His weekly visits from RVS volunteer Mark Mansfield is an opportunity to ‘sit and talk’, mainly about Reading Football Club.

“He comes about once a week and we have a nice chat about football and things,” said Don. “He’s a very nice chap, we get on well together.”

Don’s mother joined the RVS during the Second World War and volunteered with the charity for 24 years, organising the ‘meals-on-wheels’ service.

“They do very good work, very good work indeed, no question about it,” said Don.

Another recipient of a hamper was Mary Davis who said the hamper is ‘a lovely present’.

Mary, 93, found out about the RVS from a nurse she met during a visit to the doctors, she was matched with Janet two years ago who ‘has been absolutely great’ and visits her every Monday.

Mary said: “She used to take me out shopping, I can’t really do it now, but she does shopping for me and she rings me up every morning, so I am very, very grateful.”

There are about 37 Supporting you at Home volunteers and a waiting list of approximately 20 elderly people who would benefit from the service.

Liliana said: “People start with an hour and a half, but of course when the bond and friendship develops and the trust is there, they visit more and more, so I have people spending four hours a week.

“I have volunteers visiting two people in a week, or even three, so they do make a difference in the community.”

She added: “We do have a three-month commitment but to be honest after three months they all want to continue.”

For more information or to find out about becoming a volunteer email berkshirehub@ royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk or call 01628 636 098. To find out more about the RVS visit www.royalvoluntaryservice. org.uk

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