Looking Back

Giving It a Go

I don’t know where to start really. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a number of years.  I basically never went out anywhere socially but went for shopping with my sisters as I was also suffering with other physical problems. I thought moving from the family home into a different area would be good for me, like a fresh start. I moved about 3 years ago and love the place where I am, however, I was more isolated as in my previous house I knew all the neighbours.

I became more reliant on my daughter and my sister to pick up shopping as the local shop was too far for me to walk and I went out even less than before. My relative was involved with Innovate Volunteering and suggested that I volunteer. I have to admit that I came up with lots of excuses why I couldn’t. Eventually, I agreed to help with the dementia group meals, once a week. I loved it. I got to know the small number of people who attended and enjoyed the whole experience of meeting other staff and volunteers, listening to the music and seeing everyone enjoying themselves. I looked forward to my weekly visit to the centre, and felt like I was very much part of the team.

Once the lockdown came, the centre was shut and I felt like I was back to square one. I stayed in touch with the other volunteers via messenger and text. I was aware of the work Innovate was doing on the emergency hotline but I wasn’t in a position to help with things like shopping for other members of the community. I was asked if I would like to contact a couple of residents who were feeling lonely and isolated. Although I had chatted with clients before it was in the centre and face to face in a social setting.

I was given a couple of residents to contact, I was a bit worried at first that the phone calls may be a bit awkward. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Over the last few weeks I have made regular calls, had a laugh, listened to their tales about their families and what they like to watch on TV and it has been good for all of us. I feel like I am doing something useful, I am still part of the team at Innovate – even if it is all virtual for the time being. I know the residents I am speaking to are wanting to engage in community activities after the lockdown. This is really good as neither of them were involved in community activities before.

I am glad I decided to do the check in and chat calls, because it has kept me in the loop..I feel like I am doing something worthwhile and I will go back to the centre when it opens. I also get to do the same training as other volunteers, although I am not very good at zoom and my internet connection is not the best, as I just use my phone. I think in the future I would like to do some IT training and get a laptop so that I can attend more training sessions on line.

As a result of me volunteering with Innovate, my sister and my niece are now supporting an elderly couple near their house. They do the shopping every week for the couple  and have a phone chat every week too.

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“I was given a couple of residents to contact, I was a bit worried at first that the phone calls may be a bit awkward. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

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