Holbeck Together: Our People – Sue & Geoff30th March 2021
Volunteers are the lifeblood of most charities. We are extremely lucky at Holbeck Together to have an incredible group of volunteers who help us to deliver wellbeing support, meals and even entertainment for our clients. Although we’ve been restricted in terms of activities we’ve been able to provide over the past year, there are two people who are eager to get back to entertaining the Holbeck community as soon as possible!
Husband and wife Sue and Geoff have dedicated their time and skills to supporting Holbeck Together for over 13 years. Although Geoff was born and brought up in Holbeck, it wasn’t until 2008, when his wife got involved with the organisation, that he was drawn back to the area. “I was a choir boy at St Matthews and went to Ingram Road Primary School so it was the association and reminiscing really that attracted me to Holbeck Together.” Sue adds, “I used to work as an administrator at a care home and a lady I knew there did the finances at Holbeck Together. They wanted someone to help out in the office so I went along on a Tuesday and my husband lent a hand at the luncheon club which took place at the same time. We had a caravan so we could only do it in the winter months!”
Sue and Geoff’s dedication to supporting charitable causes existed long before they became involved with Holbeck Together. “We started with a coffee morning at our local church – we took half a dozen cakes and three months later we’d raised £150. I said to Geoff – we can’t keep all this money for ourselves. We enjoyed doing it – what’s the point of keep the money for yourselves?” Geoff adds, “We must have raised a few bob over the years! We’ve always had a passion for it – you get enjoyment out of knowing you’ve helped someone.”
A couple of years later, they turned their attention to fundraising for Holbeck Together. Staff asked the couple to help with a social event at the last minute as someone had let them down. Geoff explains, “We started out by doing a tea dance. We took our neighbours along but no one wanted to get up and dance – except for when the disco music came on!” Sue adds, “It went from there really. We’ve fundraised with tabletop sales and sold a bit of everything from crafts to baubles and decorations. I make cards and have taken them to various events to sell – people loved them! The money I raised went back to supporting the work of Holbeck Together. I ended up with people asking me for cards for all occasions and one lady asks me to make them for her grandchildren every year.”
Sue and Geoff loved supporting events such as International Day of Older Persons, with gatherings often held at St Matthews complete with music and handmade crafts for sale. Geoff recalls a time when he wasn’t able to attend in person, but still did his bit. “We were away one year but I wrote a script and recorded the speaking and music onto a tape for them to use. It was ‘music through the decades’ – people loved it!” Sue adds, “I’d always raffle a teddy bear every year. If people didn’t come to us – I’d walk round and make sure that we sold everything!”
The money the couple raises has always gone towards hosting free social events for the community. “People have bought the stuff, why not give it back. It’s our contribution. The socials and music are what we do best and enjoy the most.” Geoff’s passion for music is his inspiration for the events, which were happening every two months before the Covid pandemic began. “I sit down with a list of records and work out a quiz about different types of music. We go along after people have had their lunch and everyone shouts the answers out – they love it!” The fun doesn’t stop there. “You name it, we’ve had a go at it! We’ve done things like Blankety Blank, Pointless, showing DVDs at St Matthew’s – all sorts of things” says Sue. After all this time, Sue and Geoff know many of Holbeck Together’s clients by name, and lots of others to say hello to.
Perhaps one of their most successful ventures is a series of collection boxes at various locations around Holbeck, which the couple have coordinated and emptied for many years. Sue explains, “It started off when I was in the office – I used to ring round different companies to see whether they were interested in supporting us. Now we go to about 7 different places including supermarkets, the pharmacy and sandwich shops.” They are always looking for new businesses and shops that will support a collection box for Holbeck Together so please get in contact if that is something you can help with as community shops and venues start to re-open.
Sue and Geoff also deliver Holbeck Together’s quarterly newsletters to various locations around the community, including a tattoo parlour, dentist, barbers and even the carpet shop. “We go in and pick the newsletters up from the office, walk round Holbeck, have a chat and drop them off. We’ve built up great relationships with people. We’ll drop them in anywhere that anybody wants them.”
It’s been a quiet year in many ways for the couple, who haven’t been able to get out and about to perform their usual duties. They have occupied their time with doing their shopping, regular walks and two trips away. But they’ve also been busy preparing for when they can get back to Holbeck Together. They can’t wait to get back to their quizzes, collecting donation boxes and, as Sue adds, “anything they want us to do.” Geoff has been working on preparing music quizzes for when they can start again. “I’ve been writing them down to occupy my mind and taped any music that needs doing – for my own sanity really and to keep my mind going.” Sue is still making cards but is looking forward to when the shops open again so she can stock up on supplies!
When regulations allowed last year, the couple were thrilled to attend a Holbeck Together coffee morning – and even helped decorate the minibus for Hallowe’en and deliver a bag of potatoes on the way home! Other than that, it has been difficult for them to do the things they normally do. “We are hoping and praying that by next year, things like that are back to normal. We know people will be missing the socials and we’re missing them too.”
Over the years, Sue and Geoff have dedicated their time, skills and passion to raising as much money as they can for Holbeck Together and providing high quality entertainment for the organisation’s clients. But why do they do it and what keeps them going? “We like to see people’s faces – we get joy out of seeing them so excited about what we can do. We get a lot out of it as well – everybody wins. We do our bit.” Sue and Geoff do much more than their bit and we are so grateful to them and all our volunteers for their selfless commitment to serving our community.
About ‘Holbeck Together: Our People’
People are at the heart of our work: our clients, our volunteers, our staff and our partners.
When Covid-19 struck in March 2020, many felt their connection to others under threat. In a phenomenal outpouring of support for one another, the Holbeck community responded in kind. From keeping an eye on neighbours, to picking up shopping and prescriptions, to helping deliver hot meals to those shielding, everyone has played their part in what has been an outstanding team effort.
In this series we want to share some of these stories, to shine a light on the experiences of those who drive the work we do and make it all worthwhile – our people.
Look out for future blogs in the ‘Our People’ series. You can find out more about the services Holbeck Together is operating at the current time on the website here. Find out all about our journey through lockdown and beyond in more detail by reading our Anchoring a Community Report.
About Holbeck Together
Holbeck Together was established as a Neighbourhood Network Scheme in 1992 to support older people living in Holbeck. Drawing on these experiences and expertise, we now welcome people from all generations.
We provide a variety of services, activities and opportunities for people to get involved locally. Many activities are specifically for people in later years of living, others for younger people and some for all ages.