The Gift of Time

The lockdown has left many with a sudden quiet in their usually busy lives. There are hours of free time but not a lot of exciting things to fill it with! Many people have chosen to heed the collective call-to-arms and use their free time to volunteer, providing them with a sense of purpose and community.

Communities 1st aims to improve the quality of people’s lives by providing essential services to the isolated and vulnerable, as well as connecting and supporting local voluntary and community organisations. Volunteers have been at the heart of the work at Communities 1st over the pandemic; their kindness and dedication has enriched the lives of the most at risk in our communities.

Linda, a volunteer at Communities 1st, has found enormous pleasure in volunteering during her retirement with several community groups, including the St Albans Good Neighbours Scheme. Linda has swapped her busy career for an equally busy life in retirement! Aside from volunteering, Linda led a fulfilling and energetic life prior to lockdown - keeping fit, going to the theatre, travelling and singing. Life, says Linda, is for living.

Linda and her husband have lived in same area for over 20 years; being connected and supported through a strong community has bolstered her life during lockdown. Linda and her husband have also spent more time together over the lockdown, although she confesses they did get under each other’s feet at times! Linda has been having melodeon lessons online, took part in the Great British Home Chorus, and took up tennis with her husband between lockdowns. She has also rediscovered the local garden centre and begun growing her own vegetable garden. Despite enjoying elements of the lockdown, she has missed casual conversations after an exercise class, giving others a quick smile, and finding mutual interests with people.

At the start of lockdown, Linda’s thoughts strayed to the impact of the Pandemic on people’s mental health, and in particular, loneliness. Linda lived on her own until the age of 39 and recalls the loneliness of an empty house after a busy day with people and at events. Her hope is that someone would have volunteered to help her in the way she and others have been doing over these lockdowns.

Linda’s role with Communities 1st has been as a telephone befriender for a local older person. Although initially a little daunted by the role, Linda has derived much pleasure and strength from their relationship. Kathy is, Linda says, a lovely person, full of experience and “wise words” to share. Linda phones Kathy once a week, and they often tell stories and end up giggling!

The telephone call is back in style - no worrying about lockdown hair, lippy or still being in your jim-jams. Linda and Kathy have been phone buddies for a year, and have developed their own routines and patter. Their conversations have proved a reliable lifeline for Kathy at a time when there has been so much fear and uncertainty. Linda has given Kathy a very precious gift - her time.

 

Written by Etain Ferdenzi