My name is Pat Cosgrove and I’ve been working for Volunteer Dundee for nearly 8 years. I’m the Office Manager so most of my job is about keeping the office running smoothly and taking care of the finances. I still sometimes get the chance to speak to people who drop in to find out more about volunteering and I’m always amazed at the variety of different things you can do with your spare time.

Last summer I was thinking that I needed to top up the “feel good” factor that you get from helping other people, as I hadn’t been doing any formal volunteering for a while. I wanted something that would fit in with working full-time and helping out my elderly neighbours and wouldn’t take up all my weekends.

When Volunteer Dundee held its Volunteer Awards last June, one of the shortlisted nominees for the Volunteer of the Year Award was Shirley McEwan, who’s been volunteering with Contact the Elderly for many years. I got chatting to Shirley and Lorna Dunbar, who’s Contact the Elderly’s area support officer, and thought – what a great opportunity for me! Contact the Elderly organise monthly tea parties on a Sunday afternoon for older people (75+) who live alone and who don’t have family and friends living nearby. You can either volunteer as a driver or as a host. Hosting sounded like it might involve doing a bit of housework so I opted to volunteer as a driver. There was a bit of paperwork to get through, as Contact the Elderly check out their volunteer drivers and put them through a PVG.

After a false start before Christmas (the host came down with shingles and the tea party was cancelled), I’ve just attended my first tea party on a sunny Sunday in February. I live in Carnoustie and so the tea parties I’ll be attending will be round there. This tea party was hosted in a lovely house near Inverkeilor and, as well putting on a tasty spread in front of a log fire, our hosts had a fabulous display of snowdrops in their garden. I’d not met the guest I was chauffeuring before, just spoken on the phone, so the drive was a good chance to get to know each other. Marion, my new friend, grew up on a farm so was delighted to be out in the countryside and to see the snow on the hills above the Angus glens. It was her first time out of the house since Christmas. We all had a lovely afternoon sitting round the table, drinking tea, eating dainty sandwiches and cake, and having a good old natter. I’m already looking forward to my next tea party in March!

Contact the Elderly are always looking for more volunteers as either hosts or drivers. They’re also looking for more guests for the Carnoustie group so if you know anyone who lives alone, doesn’t get out much and who might like to join in, get in touch.

Photo: Pat and her new friends