Victoria (Toria) Morris graduated from the University of York in 2011 with an MA in English Literary Studies and since then has worked for a number of charitable organisations. Upon graduation, Toria secured a job with the National Trust at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk as a Visitor Experience Officer, supporting with the day-to-day running of the property. This role set her on a path to volunteer management – something that had first come to her attention whilst volunteering with York Archaeological Trust alongside her MA.
“My time with the National Trust developed my passion for working with volunteers and the community, and this led on to a year at The Hepworth Wakefield managing a fantastic team of Visitor Experience Assistants and continuing my work with volunteers. This role helped clarify where I wanted her focus to be and I went on to apply for the role of Volunteer Manager at York Mind.”
York Mind is a mental health charity which is well-integrated with the community and provides a range of options to those experiencing mental health problems. “It opened my eyes to the importance of providing support to people at times when they are often at their most vulnerable.” Despite her passion for the arts and heritage, she felt she’d reached a fork in the road and saw the chance to pursue another passion – supporting others.
“Almost half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all.”
Clear that she wanted to reach people most in need of a helping hand, she accepted a role with Marie Curie. “Marie Curie provide care and support for those living with a terminal illness and I was responsible for setting up a new Helper service across Norfolk and Suffolk. It was my job to match individuals or carers impacted by a terminal illness with a volunteer who would provide three hours of support a week to them. This could be companionship, emotional support or practical help, with the priority being to reduce isolation and alleviate the numerous and varying pressures that can come with a terminal diagnosis.”
“There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK .”
The experience gained through this incredibly rewarding role brought her to her current role with the City of York Council, developing an exciting new Homeshare project for the city’s residents. Homeshare York is a service that matches an older Householder with a younger person in a homesharing arrangement. Homesharers provide 10 hours of support a week to a Householder in exchange for a room in their home. This service gives an older person the opportunity to continue living independently with the support and companionship of their Homesharer. It also offers a viable solution to younger people struggling to find affordable accommodation whilst they work or study.
Age UK’s 2016 report, No-one should have no one, found that there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK and that half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. In addition to offering a resolution to the problems related to the provision of practical support and affordable accommodation, Homeshare schemes can also result in other significant benefits linked with intergenerational friendships. In similar schemes across the UK and internationally, participants have experienced reduced isolation, an increased sense of wellbeing and shared learning opportunities.
You can still be involved if you aren’t in York; for Homesharing opportunities internationally you can visit https://homeshare.org
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