Two years as a volunteer – Angharad’s story
Did you know over half of people over the age of 75 live alone here in the UK? 75,000 people in Wales have admitted to often or even always feeling lonely. There are over 3 million people here in Wales, yet there are people amongst us who feel completely alone.
This issue struck a chord with BIC’s Project Co-ordinator, Angharad and consequently encouraged her to see what she could do to give back to the community. Anghard explains why volunteering is important to her:
Sometimes a cuppa and a chat is all you need...
“This month I will be celebrating two years as a volunteer. I say ‘celebrating’ because it has really been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I was prompted to look into volunteering by a radio feature I heard, which highlighted the high number of elderly people in the UK suffering with loneliness. I use the word suffer because loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! It broke my heart to think of an elderly person in my community who might be feeling like this, so I looked into what kind of schemes are in my area.
I came across a ‘befriending’ scheme run by the charity Age Connects Cardiff & The Vale, this sounded like just what I was looking for. My role as a befriender would be to visit an elderly person once a week for a cuppa and a chat to keep them company. Once my application had been approved, my DBS came back clear and I’d done the Age Connects training, I was good to go. Almost immediately I was matched with someone in my area.
As my colleagues will vouch, I can talk for Wales, so when I met my new friend we were chatting away happily in no time. My new friend, Pearl*, is in her mid-eighties and because of her arthritis is pretty much housebound, only getting out on rare occasions for hospital appointments. Sometimes I am the only person she has seen in days. Mostly we sit in front of her fire chatting whilst sipping tea, and she always makes sure she has a supply of Welsh cakes from Cardiff Market for me, I’m easily bought! Sometimes I help her with little jobs around the house, fixing a broken blind or moving the furniture around to help her manoeuvre around the house easier and I give her advice on paying bills, now that she can’t get to the Post Office to pay them. Age Connects are always on hand if I have any queries, need advice or more training, and I write a monthly report for my Volunteer Manager. Luckily, BIC have also been very supportive of my volunteering, offering flexibility when needed, which is very helpful.
We all lead increasingly busy lives these days, and as a single mum to two boys and working full time I often feel like I’m chasing my tail! However, when I knock on Pearl’s door and she opens it and sees me standing there, her face lights up. It is 100% worth making the time to visit just for that. I often can’t get back out the front door either because she is so busy thanking me for visiting her and telling me how much she loves our chats. I tell her every time, but I know that she doesn’t hear me, the pleasure really is all mine.”
*Not her real name
If you would like to get involved, find more information about the befriending scheme and Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale here.
As BIC’s Food Project Co-ordinator Angharad brings over 20 years administrative experience to the role, along with her passion for food and drink. Working as part of the food export team, Angharad has this year helped co-ordinate 4 food and drink trade development visits on behalf of the Welsh Government’s Food Division to Italy, the US, France and Ireland. as well as co-ordinating training workshops, clinics and and events for the Food and Drink Export Club. Read more...