The new director of a charity which provides companionship and practical help for the elderly and vulnerable is hoping they can help more people than ever this year.
Six months into her role leading the Fulham Good Neighbours, Steffani McDonagh is seeking ways to increase the charity’s client base from its current tally of 465.
Formed in 1966, the Rosaline Road charity aims to be at the heart of the Fulham community, with its staff, largely dedicated and willing volunteers, performing a variety of helpful tasks.
“We deal predominantly with the elderly but do look after vulnerable adults too, doing things like gardening, shopping, running errands, escorting them to appointments, decorating. It just would be whatever a good neighbour would do for you,” said Steffani, who was born in Zimbabwe and came to Fulham after living in Ireland for 12 years.
The charity covers most of Fulham, up to Fulham Broadway, and the peripheral areas and although Steffani has ambition to expand beyond that, the FGN are somewhat limited by the reach of their volunteers.
Steffani, who worked for a charity in Richmond before joining the FGN, said: “People can be quite isolated, even living in sheltered accommodation and so we pride ourselves that the volunteers who do the tasks do more than just those tasks. They will chat with them and just pull them out of that isolation and give them a taste of what is going on, they’re a friendly face and a friendly voice. They might encourage them to come out into the garden and get involved in whatever way they can, so they are getting active too.”
As well as providing individual help, the FGN also host social events, with a club event every Wednesday afternoon, with crosswords, cakes and tea and on the first Tuesday of each month, a lunch club at the Hollywood Arms pub in Chelsea.
The charity, which has just three paid staff and around 60 volunteers, runs mainly off donations or fund-raising activities. Last December, H&F Council agreed £45,000pa funding for the FGN, through a third sector investment fund, which will help support their expanded client base.
Anyone who has a neighbour, or relative, they think would benefit from the help of the Fulham Good Neighbours should call 020 7385 8850, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group is also keen to recruit new volunteers. Anyone interested should get in touch using the contact details above.