Highly Commended – Lyn Head

Lyn was one of the founder volunteers for the Chit Chat Club Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust, which helps tackle loneliness and isolation.

Her nomination is below:


Volunteering Activity:

Lyn helps with the running of our Chit Chat club alongside helping with our school groups and children’s events

Reason for nomination:

Lyn Head has been volunteering with Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust for several years. She has a variety of roles within the organisation: befriending volunteer at our chit chat club; learning volunteer with our school groups; engagement volunteer helping with our family events.

When I asked Lyn why she enjoys volunteering with us she said:

“It’s a lovely way to spend time … I love the organisation and the people in it who are so friendly. Chit Chat is lovely seeing people of all different ages and at different stages of their life. I love being with people and talking to people … The schools are fascinating, I have learnt so much helping with them and the children are entertaining. Every school is different and the things the children say are priceless.”

Lyn has been helping with Chit Chat right from the start when it began in March 2016. The weekly meeting is a chance for people in the local community who might be lonely to get out and meet new people and make friends. In essence, building a community for isolated individuals. In the beginning it was hard to get the word out about the club to the right people. Some weeks Lyn and the team might see only one person however Lyn felt that even if only one person came it was still making a difference – Ruth, our first chit chat participant, said that if she didn’t come to chit chat she could go a whole week without speaking to anyone.

The small numbers in the beginning did not deter Lyn because she was passionate about the aims of the group. Everywhere she went she would mention Chit Chat. When we had some funding for leaflets to be printed she took handfuls out to drop through letter boxes. Two years on and the perseverance has paid off. We now have on average 25 people coming along each week, with up 70 people coming to the monthly talks. At chit chat each week Lyn will ensure she offers everyone a cup of tea or coffee as this way she can make sure she has spoken to everyone and no one is left out. This type of inclusion is at the centre of the chit chat group and so Lyn diligence in this is much appreciate by everyone.

However, it is not just Chit Chat where Lyn demonstrates her worth. She has become a valuable education volunteer and one who the Learning and Engagement staff have really come to rely on. Over the last 3 years Lyn has helped with over 50 different school groups, meeting over 2500 children in the process. She has also helped at over 30 family activity events thus meeting another 1500 children along her way.

Lyn is always willing to support the school groups, helping to ensure the children have a brilliant day out with us. She loves talking to the children and helping them learn as they take part in the variety of hands on activities. And the children have a great time finding out all about their local history with the help of Lyn. But it is not just working with the children where she is of value but she will happily stay to help clear up afterwards whether that means washing up paint pots and brushes or packing away all the rocks and fossils.

But it is not just at Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust that Lyn has put her skills to helping the local community and ensuring that the sense of community spirit is not lost.

Lyn used to volunteer for the WRVS. Her role there was to visit an elderly lady and give her company. When the WRVS lost their funding, Lyn helped with the campaign to prevent the loss of funding and ultimately to try and help ensure the valuable service for the elderly and vulnerable remained. Despite talking to local counsellors, the campaign failed however this has not deterred Lyn. She said only this week that she will continue the fight for funding to help beat loneliness and her next step will be to write to the Minister for Loneliness.

Although the funding for WRVS has gone Lyn still visits her 89-year-old lady every week. On one occasion the lady was on the phone to her son when Lyn was visiting and her son mentioned that he had noticed a car on the drive; the lady said, “oh that’s my friend visiting”. Lyn was so touched by this and said it was lovely to be described as the elderly lady’s friend.

It is not just a passion for the elderly that motivates Lyn to volunteer but everyone within the community no matter what their age.

Lyn is also a volunteer with Mentor Link. Schools can get in touch with Mentor Link if they feel there is an individual within their school who would benefit from a mentor who is not part of the teaching staff. Lyn has already successfully helped support and mentor to young people who know feel confident enough to carry on with their school life without the additional support. She is currently mentoring a primary age child and secondary aged child. Spending an hour, a week with each of the individuals offering a listening ear to vulnerable young people who don’t feel able to talk to their parents or teaching staff.

Despite all this Lyn still finds time to help her grandson with his daily paper round and attend her weekly line dancing and Pilates classes.

So, why do I think Lyn deserve to be nominated? I think the words of my colleague, Holly Wain, Heritage Activities Assistant, who has worked with Lyn from the start, sums this up best;

Lyn astounds me with her commitment and passion for helping her community in so many ways! She is the most modest and selfless person who does not believe that she is doing anything special or out of the ordinary. The reality is that she dedicates so much of her time to helping different groups and she brings so much joy to people. If that’s through her friendly smile, unfaltering positive attitude, or amazing cakes! We don’t know what we would do without Lyn and I can imagine that that is how everyone feels who is lucky enough to work with her.