JVN Volunteering Profiles – League of Jewish Women’s Jackie Baines

The League of Jewish Women has been helping those in need – locally and internationally – since 1943. Today, the LJW are as busy as ever, providing assistance in hospitals, schools, hospices, and day centres, plus are behind various social activities. Jackie Baines, Head of Development and Communications,  works tirelessly for this remarkable volunteer organisation. We’re honoured to be able to ask her some questions about the LJW.

Thanks for making time for us, Jackie! Can you tell us about the LJW’s function?

League of Jewish Women is a volunteer welfare organisation which offers assistance to the Jewish and wider community. We are a membership organisation, and members usually belong to local groups who meet regularly for social and cultural activities such as LeagueArtz – an associated group which visits theatres, museums and exhibitions.

How did you get involved with the League of Jewish Women?

My Mother, my cousins and numerous other relatives are all active members of the League of Jewish Women. However, it was a friend who recommended me for my current position.

LJW’s Jackie Baines

How many volunteers are currently working with you?

We currently have about 2,500 members around the country.  This includes 150 LADs (League Associate Divisions).  Not all of the members are actively doing welfare work but I am always amazed at just how much voluntary activity is being carried out.

What type of volunteering opportunities do you have to offer?

We can offer volunteering opportunities in all walks of life.

If we do not have something to suit  an individual it is possible to sort out a special volunteering project.   Our members work in schools mainly assisting the teaching staff helping children with their reading.

In the North West Region we have a team of members who visit schools and tell them about the Jewish festivals – it is a wonderful rota that has received tremendous feedback. Many groups have members volunteering in hospitals – some do hospital visiting, others take the refreshment or stationery trolley round the wards, some run the coffee shop, some help In A&E.

Head Start is a Christie Hospital project in Manchester where our volunteers show patients who have lost their hair through chemotherapy how to use scarves in attractive styles.  This project, which won the Queens Award for voluntary service,  has inspired LJW volunteers in London and the South to set up the Way Ahead project where a team of volunteers visit patients in hospitals and also visit patients in their own home.

Our many rotas include supporting residents and staff in various hospices,  we also help in a number of Citizens Advise Bureau.  We visit prisons helping in the crèche and the tea bars and some of our volunteers have been carrying out their rotas for over 15 years – often longer than the inmates.

Many of our members sit on various local committees such as the National Council of Women,  a number are magistrates, some sit on  Local Health Authority or Education committees, many work in day centres and are involved in cooking and entertaining the elderly. There are still a few members  delivering meals on wheels.  Some members are working with the homeless either in kitchens or collecting food parcels.

“Knit and Kvetch” is one of 8 knitting groups  formed where  members meet socially to  knit squares and sew  them into blankets which are then given to World Jewish Relief. This rota has become so popular and includes members from the Shalom Club in Leicester, Chigwell and Hainault, Newbury Park, Harrow and Kenton, London North West, Stanmore and Edgware and many more.

We have a group of young Jewish mums in Bushey called  J-MUMS who have set up a baby and toddler group that meet twice a month in a residential home in Stanmore.  The object behind the play group is to get the very young and the elderly mixing together. When it works it is so rewarding.

The children usually have a nursery rhyme and sing-a-long as the last activity in the session and the residents love joining in.  We would like to set up more J-Mums groups.

We also realise there is a need for a group for professional women of around 40 plus. Obviously working women have less time to do voluntary work. We find it is usually the newly retired that have the time to embrace the many volunteering opportunities.

We have groups in North West Region, Leicester, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bournemouth  London and the South.

What is the best part of your day?

Yesterday a woman rang up she was having chemotherapy and had heard of our Way Ahead service.  I was able to find two volunteers to help her on the day that she selected.  I always get a great feeling when we are able to help someone and that will always be the best part of the day.

We get a lot of requests where it is not so easy to find volunteers.  There are so many lonely elderly people out there who feel housebound and just want to get out of the house.  We never have enough befrienders.

What events have you got prepared for 2011?

Our Social Issues Committee have organised a special event to mark International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March 2011.   The event is OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS – but does it for women everywhere? This seminar will look at the opportunities for women in the work place internationally and we have speakers talking about Japan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

We’re also planning AN EVENING WITH LYNDA BELLINGHAM (the much loved actress took the lead role in the stage version of Calendar Girls and is a regular panellist on Loose Women).  The event  is open to non-LJW members and is taking place on Thursday 4th May 2011 at 7.30 pm in central London.  Tickets are £15 and will include tea, coffee and Danish.  For more information or tickets call 020 7242 8300.

How has JVN helped you work with volunteers?

JVN has been instrumental in supporting and overseeing  new initiatives in the community regarding volunteering such as the  publishing of The Good Practice Guide.  They have also been actively supporting the recent  community projects that look at encouraging more young women to  put themselves forward for leadership roles  in the community.   JVN  raises the profile of volunteering on behalf of the Jewish Community.   LJW, alongside all the other organisations within the community can only benefit from JVNs volunteering initiatives .
If you’d like to get in touch with Jackie, feel free to email her, or contact the LJW on 020 7242 8300

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Categories: Volunteering Profiles

Author:Mike

Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at mike@jvn.org.uk and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to www.jvn.org.uk and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.

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