Barnes-based FiSH Neighbourhood Care has won the award known as “the MBE for volunteer groups” the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Their name is an acronym: it stands for Friendship, Independence, Help and Support. FiSH exists to combat loneliness and social isolation in older and vulnerable people living in Barnes, Mortlake and East Sheen so that they continue to live independent and dignified lives. Through their 300 strong volunteer network they connect the community offering friendship, support and practical help.
Crispin O’Brien, Chair of FiSH said “Without the goodwill and generosity of our dedicated volunteers none of FiSH’s activities would be possible. In 2017/8 FiSH volunteers gave 32,500 hours of their time to help older and vulnerable people in SW13 and SW14. It would require over 18 full time trained staff to replace these hours at a cost to Richmond Council of over £580,000 every year.”
Micky Forster, Director at FiSH commented “Volunteers are our life blood. We are lucky to have so many wonderful people carrying out a range of roles as befrienders, car drivers, bus escorts, minibus drivers, shoppers, listeners, cake makers, fundraisers, event organisers, dementia friends, speakers, gardeners, handy people, helpline co-ordinators and trustees. However we always need more volunteers. If you live in Barnes, Mortlake or East Sheen and have a few hours to spare, please join us. We’ll provide you with support and training and you’ll get more back than you can ever imagine”.
The charity finds innovative and creative ways of meeting the increasing needs among older people, delivering regular events and activities to combat isolation, loneliness and connect communities.
FiSH employs a small team of dedicated staff and operates two accessible minibuses. The organisation currently has over 300 volunteers who are trained, encouraged and supported to help deliver the activities, events and services that are on offer.