Volunteers Week

Our volunteers – past and present

Our volunteer history

It’s #VolunteersWeek. When PSS started back in 1919, the vast majority of our work was done by volunteers – incredibly talented people who came forward to help others in need; that typical warm, kind and helpful nature of Liverpool people clearly shining through in so many of the things we’ve seen and heard while doing our research. It’s thanks to them – their selflessness and ability to treat others with dignity – that we owe our success. We’d be nowhere without them. They built foundations for PSS that have lasted 100 years – and we’re proud to still have a base of brilliant volunteers today.

A lot of what we did at the start was experimental, and had never been done in Liverpool before. We set up a whole host of committees, funds and offshoot societies to help people in need, spotting gaps in the support people could get, and filling them in the best way we could. We had a committee for old people’s welfare, a dental advisory clinic, a ‘Tired Mothers’ Holiday Scheme’ to give mums a break, a workshop, club and home-schooling for adults with disabilities, a housing advisory bureau and a scheme to introduce social workers into hospitals – to name but a few of our early initiatives. The variety and the breadth of these services only goes to show how in-touch we were with people, how we listened and how amazing our volunteer base was.

Read about our wonderful volunteer history in our new centenary book all about us, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund: ‘What Ought to be Done’: bit.ly/PSSCentenaryBook

And, please let us know what you thought of our book, which we thank our friends at National Lottery Heritage Fund for making possible: bit.ly/PSSCentSurvey.

Thanks to our Covid-19 volunteers

This #VolunteersWeek we want to say a massive thank you to all our incredible PSS staff who, on top of their day job, have been volunteering their time to support the Liverpool Good Neighbourhood Scheme; doing calls, transporting children to school hubs and shopping for people with support needs as part of our partnership work with Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services. This has been to help those especially affected by the impact of COVID-19.

The PSS values have really shone through here and our squad of #NeverMoreNeeded volunteers have shown oodles of big-heartedness, been tremendously open-minded, showed off a determination to do more, been genuine friends to people in need and, as ever, shown themselves to be consummate professionals throughout.

To all those who’ve stepped in from across the organisation (and that’s a lot) – you’re awesome!

Jeremy – a former prisoner of war and ‘expert by experience’ volunteer

In 1961 Jeremy, who later became a PSS volunteer, was supported by Merseyside Ex-Prisoners of War Association – otherwise known as The Freedom Programme. This was for Far-Eastern prisoners of war when they returned to the UK from Burma and India. They’d seen and experienced some horrific things, which haunted them daily in the most awful ways. The feelings these men were having were never diagnosed; post-traumatic stress was still yet to be identified as a mental illness, and there was no support around back then to help them through it. There was still a big stigma surrounding mental health, and for a lot of men returning from war, talking about any mental health challenges they may have been experiencing felt taboo. This led them to feel lonely and isolated, unsure of what to do next and with nobody to really understand what they were going through.

So, PSS stepped in to provide this ground-breaking service, supporting men with their emotions and the practical implications of these on their life. This began laying the foundations for a revolution in mental health support.

Many men like Jeremy were so inspired by the support they received in this service by specialist therapists and volunteers alike that they went on to become trustees of subsequent organisations supporting many more men like them.

Flick to page 43 of our wonderful centenary book, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund: ‘What Ought to be Done’, to read Jeremy’s volunteer story: bit.ly/PSSCentenarybook

And, please let us know what you thought of our book, which we thank our friends at National Lottery Heritage Fund for making possible: bit.ly/PSSCentSurvey


Our peer supporter volunteers

We’re currently developing Upbeat Liverpool from the current upbeatblog.me ran by our Wellbeing Centre team and volunteers. This is a place to share useful relaxation exercises and also fun activities for people to get involved with and manage their mental health and wellbeing at home.

Peer supporters are volunteers who previously used the service and who now support others through their own online courses during COVID-19. The staff at the Wellbeing Centres and these volunteers have seen a big opportunity to update the site, make it more user-friendly and open it up to other people in need of mental health support.

So, a big thanks to our Wellbeing Centre team and volunteer peer supporters for offering their expertise on the brand, what the functionality of the site needed to be and how it could be more supportive and accessible. We’re now well on the way with a brand new website.

We can’t wait to share this new look website with you and open the doors to anyone who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Look out for a link in the next few weeks and please let us know what you think. Here’s a little sneak-peek for now.


Our Toy Library volunteer story

Born in 1925, Ruth Bennet-Jones first came to PSS at the very start of her career when, bucking the trend as a woman in 1940s higher education, she went to university to study social work, and did her professional placement with PSS. Despite some initial opposition from her friends, who felt a woman married to a professional man shouldn’t have to work, Ruth followed her heart back to PSS in the 1970s, before going on to start up her own PSS service that would touch the lives of many local families with disabled children. An endlessly brilliant and intelligent woman, and equally wonderful storyteller, Ruth is a treasured part of PSS history.

In 2019, our chief exec, Lesley Dixon and comms manager, Lisa Davies met with her in her home in Anglesey, and she so enthusiastically told them about her experience setting up the Toy Library for children with disabilities. She had two wonderful volunteers who worked alongside her, adapting toys so that children with disabilities could safely play with them. This made a massive difference to families with a disabled children who were living in poverty.

Flick to page 71 of our wonderful centenary book, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund: ‘What Ought to be Done’, to read Ruth’s story: bit.ly/PSSCentenarybook

And, please let us know what you thought of our book, which we thank our friends at National Lottery Heritage Fund for making possible: bit.ly/PSSCentSurvey


Our Dutch Farm volunteers

During lockdown, Dutch Farm  – our urban allotment for adults with learning disabilities to come and grow, learn and meet friends – had to be temporarily closed for the safety of those using the service.  

Tons of hard work has been put into maintaining individual plots with delicious organic veggies. Thankfully, our wonderful volunteers, Louise and Marie have continued popping in and watering the crops at a safe distance so that the people can still have thriving veggies when they return. 

We can’t wait to see all their beaming faces back at the farm and all the delicious and nutritious recipes that their healthy crops can be used to create thanks to Louise and Marie. Thank you!