COPA Board Member, Hazel Maguire representing Swansea 50+ Forum, talks to us about her experience of volunteering and fundraising for different older people’s causes.

I have been volunteering and fundraising for a number of years now. My friends and I had always supported a variety of charities, but our hearts were in the problems of dementia generally. Our mums or dads had all suffered with dementia, and we all had terrible memories of how helpless our families felt. So the five of us decided to set up a Swansea charity, Alzheimer’s Research. In doing so, we combined our individual backgrounds and strengths and weaknesses. In Alzheimer’s Research there’s no room for egos, we all value each other.

Our charitable status for Alzheimer’s Research about 5 years ago gave us confidence to arrange fundraising events. We called upon our circles of colleagues and friends and as we are older and have more experience, we fortunately had wide circles to call on. They helped with fashion shows, tin collections, quiz shows and stalls at carnivals etc. Charity work has always been beneficial to me as well as to those I’ve been seeking to help. I have made new friends in local businesses including the proprietors of an Iranian cafe and a Sikh shop who take our collection boxes and are only too happy to be included in their community and discuss new research. It’s great to know new people from different backgrounds, and build links in the community.

Similarly, until Covid-19 my crafty friends met on a weekly basis to practice their ever-expanding crafting skills and share the proceeds of their efforts between Alzheimer’s Research and their Cancer charity.

I spent my working life at Swansea University in zoology and biochemistry research, so I am fascinated by the new scientific knowledge in this field. I feel privileged to be included in the Welsh network of Swansea, Cardiff, and Bangor Research departments through the Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research. Their research benefits older people, but they also benefit from the wealth of our experiences. Too often we focus on the negative aspects of ageing, not on the value and knowledge we can bring to communities.

As well as my work with Alzheimer’s Research and CADR, I am also involved with my local 50+ Forum and I am a Trustee at COPA, the voice of forums. In my view, COPA should be built upon and supported as a unique organisation and a conduit within Wales to receive and spread good practices that will make Wales the best country to grow old in. If you have wondered about starting to volunteer, I would definitely encourage you to get involved in your local forum! You could find yourself learning new skills, meeting new people, and having a tangible impact on your community.

To find out about your local forum please contact us using this form.