Royal Voluntary Service – helping the elderly How do charities such as Royal Voluntary Service cope with an ageing population and changing health needs?

The Royal Voluntary Service was founded originally as the Woman’s Voluntary Service in 1938, to assist during and after Air Raids during World War two.  This included first aid and assisting evacuation and the billeting of children.  By 1943 they were also assisting those in the merchant Navy and other branches off the armed forces, using the serves off over a million volunteers.  By 1966 the patron of the Charity HRM  The Queen, granted the charity the honour of using Royal in it’s title. Services evolved and changed, becoming a leader for the services provided to older people.  In 1996, despite having a presence in local hospitals and magistrates courts, the Now Royal Voluntary Service gained a foothold in Peterborough City Centre. One Volunteer Greta has been with Senior Stop from day one.

Greata,  has been a part of Senior Stop for twenty years. However, her membership of RVS is closer to twenty-five years. “It was a neighbour who introduced me to the Woman’s Royal Voluntary Service,” says Greta. “The Royal Voluntary Service mainly deliver services to the venerable in society” Greta explains about what RVS stands for. Around the UK RVS provides meals on wheels to housebound people. There is still an RVS presence in some hospitals.  Originally helping out at the magistrate court eventually Greta came to senior stop. Volunteers range from teenagers to the elderly.  Aimed at the elderly Senior Stop, he customers helps them to combat loneliness and allows them to socialise over an affordable cup of tea. Many of the customers struggle to walk, serval are in wheel chairs and one is paralysed down one side after a server stroke.  “Royal Voluntary Service deriver services to the vulnerable in society,” says Greta. “it is expected that there will be more elderly people in the future who have health problems and it will be their wish to remain in their own homes while they are able. They will need help from trained professionals but a trained volunteer can go into their homes and visit and and listen to them, help with them with the shopping or take them out for a walk,” explaining how mental health and loneliness can be combated in old age, meals on wheels are still delivered in some areas and there is also a befriending service. Aside from having human contact and good mental health in old age physical health is just as important in the elderly.  However, when entering Senior Stop one cannot help but notice a lot of sugary snacks are on offer, teacakes chocolate, crisps etc.  “Senior stop have in the past diversified by selling fresh fruit but we found this was not profitable and the short shelf life of fruit deterred us in the end. I have not had many requests from diabetics for anything special,” says Greta, “To consider selling a diabetic item I think I personally would need to discuss this with the appropriate people, regarding the diet and medical condition of some of our users and whether we would be able to offer alternatives to them.”  Whilst acknowledging appetites and medical and health needs change as we get older, being unable to accommodate for particular health needs does some a bit below the bar.  However Senior does seem to be willing to address this discrepancy and work alongside it’s users to make what they need with regards to their needs, whether they be social, physical, medical or otherwise. Senior Stop is a great cause to help combat social isolation in old age, however does appear to need to be updated with changing needs of an ageing population.

For further information pleas contact;


Royal Voluntary Service, 2 Cattle Market Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE1 1TW

Email address:


01733 307304


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