A Community Neighbours story
A lady who had been attending one of our Friendship and support groups was referred to the service.In her very late 80s she was managing life pretty well
with the support of family and was still getting out and about.Her illnesses are the usual ones that come with age and she knew they could restrict
her in the future.The thought was there in her mind though that her life was only going to get more isolated as she became frailer.She was concerned
that she may not be able to get out on her mobility scooter to do shopping or see her friends.It was worse in the winter as it was much more hazardous.Her
family are at work through the week and she lived a little way out of the town on a small estate. She felt having a visitor once a week would give
her something to look forward to, help her with her memory and also give her some emotional support.She is a lovely lady who enjoys going out and mixing
with others, it really is important to her, and she could see that becoming more difficult.A local person who used to pop in had become poorly himself
so she was missing that company through the day.
Our Volunteer Community Neighbour
Our Volunteer moved to Cumbria from Cambridge 3 years ago and felt quite strange as she had given up her home, job and left behind her family and friends.She
decided she wanted to do some volunteer work and after attending a U3A meeting picked up a leaflet on a new project called Community Neighbours.The
volunteer had been a Doctors Receptionist for 11 years and had enjoyed it immensely, getting on well with people so becoming a Neighbour sounded right
up her street.She signed up did the required training and check and was ready to start.Whilst waiting to be matched up to client she started volunteering
her time serving meals on the In Patient Unit once a week, which she is still doing.
It just so happened that the Volunteer Neighbour lived on the same estate as the lady referred so we went to see her to see if a visit each week would
be of benefit.We made arrangements for the visits to start once a week.That soon turned into twice a week.On a Monday the Community Neighbour takes
the lady to the friendship group which runs at the Hospice and they regularly have lunch before the session. Through attending the group the volunteer
has also made new friends. On a Wednesday they go out maybe for shopping or a visit somewhere and lunch. Meeting up twice a week seems to work for
both.The volunteer also rings through the week to make sure everything is ok and has often sorted out little jobs that pop up needing doing. The lady
really looks forward to the visits and outings and it has in her own words “changed her life”. The two have become great friends and have a wonderful
rapport.The volunteer loves to hear about her experiences which have spanned 90 years and has learned a lot.The lady has become part of the family
and the volunteer values her opinions on all sorts of things. She is a dear friend.
It is always difficult accepting help from a stranger – what will the family think? Don’t want to make them feel inadequate or jealous.This lady took the
brave step to do something for herself and it has been a real benefit to her.At first it was maybe a bit sticky but in time it has come to be accepted
as a real bonus.Family are still there to help and do what they have always done.The relationship between the Community Neighbour and the lady is an
addition.The family are really pleased there is someone else who takes a real interest in their mum, her life and her well-being.It has enriched her
life and she has definitely been out of the house more.They feel it is important for their mum to have new friends and be able to see old friends.The
arrangement works well and is appreciated by the family.
The Community Neighbours service has made a real difference to both the volunteer and the lady she visits.It has been sustained for over a year and they
have become real friends.It has brought happiness and joy and has helped to keep the lady independent and less reliant on her family through the week.It
has had a positive effect on her attitude and approach to the week ahead.