All Hands to the Pump

Up and down the country people continue to take an ‘all hands to the pump’ approach to caring for vulnerable individuals in their communities. Volunteer organisations like Communities 1st, together with a wide range of local volunteer groups, have been beavering away silently and regularly for months, providing much-needed care and support for those who are isolated or at-risk.

Communities 1st volunteers strive to always make a real and much-needed difference to people within their local community. Uplifting stories of volunteers’ determination, hard work and generosity continue to amaze us. Angela is living proof of the phrase: “if you want something done, then give it to a busy person”. She is a nurse who, despite having an incredibly difficult year, continues to give her time to help others.  

Angela jokes: “lockdown, what lockdown?” Three of Angela’s family are key workers; she has four children over the age of 17, plus a dog and a work-from-home-husband. Angela has survived this last year with relentless determination. She has developed new skills, such as replacing broken fencing and renovating her garden. Like many others, walking her dog several times a day has proved to do as much good for the dog as it has for her own mental health! She has experienced random acts of kindness that have floored her, from her own family as well as from friends, and feels that she has grown to know people better. 

Angela’s nursing responsibilities have shifted over the last year, but the pressure has remained. Like so many key workers, particularly those in the NHS, she admits to having felt scared, especially when PPE provision was patchy. Her colleagues became her extended family, as they banded together to get through the dark days. Pulled in many different directions personally and professionally, she didn’t have much room for ‘me’ time!  

Angela however, always thinking of others, still volunteered to shop for people who were isolating. Not satisfied with that, she also signed up with Communities 1st, thinking that she would happily be a volunteer dog walker. She was instead assigned a role as a telephone befriender for a very elderly lady. How difficult could it be to chat?  

The challenge for Angela wasn’t the chatting, but juggling this role in between her incredibly hectic and sometimes challenging life. Despite this, she managed to squeeze it all in, and especially enjoyed being part of Pat’s life since she doesn’t have any grandparents herself.

Exchanging stories about their lives has helped to give Angela and Pat’s conversations a natural rhythm and structure, and has fulfilled a need for both women. The two women, although thrown together as strangers, have achieved a gentle and easy companionship, beginning with a simple telephone conversation. Remember: it’s good to talk! 

Written by Etain Ferdenzi