"Retiring three years ago I have decorated my home throughout, re-designed my garden into low maintenance and now feel I would like to do some voluntary work. I am not sure however, what I want to volunteer for and where to start looking! Ideas please."
Answer : One place to contact is your local Volunteer Bureaux. These Bureaux are situated around the country and they keep on their files a large number of local charities who require volunteers. Their role is to match skills and time available of any prospective volunteer to a charity with the kind of work that will interest them. There is a national number that you can contact who will give you the telephone number of your nearest Bureaux. Telephone Volunteer Development England on 0121 633 4555.
A further place to contact is the Community Service Volunteers who have four types of volunteering opportunity one of which is for "retired and senior volunteers". These are for people of age 50+ who are willing to work on projects in education, the environment and community care in the local community. To find out whether they have such a need in your area telephone 020 7278 6601.
Answer : Insurance is available with reference to wheelchairs and for any person using a wheelchair Public Liability Insurance is a wise insurance to take out. If another person is injured as a result of the wheelchair user causing an accident then personal injury litigation could ensue.
Also you may wish to consider taking out insurance for theft or accidental damage. There are several companies in the market who cover this type of insurance so a call to any insurance broker should get a competitive quote.
Answer : Apart from advice that you will get from your surveyor and solicitor you need to think about what you appreciate about your current community and would like to maintain when you move, bearing in mind that this new home will, as you say, probably be your last. eg vicinity of shops, access to medical centre, bank, etc.
Check out if it is a vibrant community. You may not wish to join organisations, attend community social activities at the moment but a busy community is usually a helpful and positive community if you have need of help in the future.
None of us is free from the possibility of mobility problems as we age, so perhaps you should consider a bungalow, if looking for a flat but not on the ground floor for security reasons, make sure there is a lift and if you want to live in a house look for a home where there is a downstairs toilet or the facility to put a stair lift in.
If you find what you think is a suitable property, visit it several times, take other people to look at it with you, listen to their comments. Speak to the neighbours, for example, that attractive looking olde world pub a quarter of a mile down the road may in fact be a venue for rock bands at the weekend!
Check out the local transport services, are they under threat? Finally, look around at the contents of your present home and see what you could not live without. Make sure there is room for these and also that they can actually be moved into your new home without, for example, removing windows, etc.
Finally, if you are moving into a retirement complex or a purpose built community and you have pets, make sure they are allowed.
Answer : If your calls to date have just been making enquiries rather than an actual complaint in relation to the poor service you feel you are receiving, then go back to the department and specify that you are making a formal complaint. You could make a telephone call but a letter is more effective.
If you do not receive satisfaction after your official complaint then telephone the Council Department of Corporate Services and Monitoring and request a form on how to make a complaint against the Council. (you could write if you prefer). There are strict guidelines laid down when complaints are received via this route and within ten working days you should receive a written reply setting out the situation and how matters will be put right.
Other ways are to complain to your Local Councillor or member of Parliament. A call to your Council Officers general enquiry line will give you their names and contact details.