Our volunteering story...Housebound Learners
Over 30 voluntary groups and over 120 prospective volunteers came together at The Wandsworth Volunteer Fair on 17 October 2013. Among those recognised at this event for their commitment to volunteering in the borough, was Alison MacDonald of the Charity Housebound Learners (HBL), who was presented with a certificate by London Assembly Member, Richard Tracey [pictured above]. HBL was founded in 1988 to provide learning opportunities to home-based students who can’t easily attend courses, including those who are elderly, have a disability or are isolated for other reasons.
Alison MacDonald first came across HBL herself when her mother was referred to the service following a stroke. Alison saw how much the service helped her mother, commenting that it was key to her recovery. Colleen Bowen, now a dedicated volunteer trustee became involved after experiencing the difference Housebound Learners can make to people’s lives first hand. Due to health and mobility problems Colleen found herself struggling with isolation and depression. She told us how a fortunate encounter with HBL literally changed her life, helping her regain her confidence, learn new skills and enjoy her life again.
Unfortunately, following funding cuts in recent years Alison and Colleen found themselves struggling to keep the service afloat. Thankfully they were recently introduced to Hayley James, by Volunteering Wandsworth, who is now volunteering with HBL to help Alison and Colleen revive the organisation for another generation of housebound learners. Hayley has worked in the voluntary sector before and has a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to offer, Alison told us that when she heard about Hayley, “she sounded just right” and they are extremely pleased to have her on board.
Above (Alison and Colleen at The Wandsworth Volunteering Fair)