Written by one of our volunteers:
As the true impact of coronavirus became increasingly real for the strained NHS, and families and individuals losing loved ones, many of you embarked on a quest to find something useful to do. Ann became a volunteer in May 2020, combining it with her work as an NHS medical secretary. Although she hadn't volunteered since her children were young, she felt compelled to contribute to the pandemic response effort, even in a small way.
Ann shares how enormously proud she is to be part of NHS, particularly over this last year when all personnel have been tested to their limits. Ann and her husband - who also works for the NHS - have three grown-up children who have flown the nest. She is lucky to have her elderly mum nearby, who had to be persuaded (with some difficulty) to forgo her usual independence and keep safe at home!
Before the pandemic, Ann spent her free time learning Italian online, dog-walking, meeting up with girlfriends and keeping fit. Ann hadn’t realised how much she would miss being connected with people and the casual conversations that shape relationships. Simple things have buoyed her mood through the lockdown: being able to see her mum, talking to family on the phone, walking in the fresh air with the dog, exercising with a friend, and watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race (her guilty pleasure)!
Ann hopes for a future in which people will continue being kind to each other, valuing essential workers, continuing to look out for one another, and taking time to be genuinely interested in how people are. Ann would like to think that she will never take things for granted again, and she has promised herself that she will try to keep up with friendships that have slipped.
Ann’s role with Communities 1st has been as a telephone befriender for Sarah, who has been in isolation. Although she already had telephone skills as part of her job, Ann admits to having been a bit apprehensive initially. She wanted to be sensitive to her new friend’s needs and respectful of her history and unique experiences. Conversation however flowed naturally and the pair talked about tv, music, passions and interests. Ann comments that the client's confidence has grown as the two women have become closer, and that the befriending experience has been a privilege. Ann laughs as she recalls how each telephone call finishes in the same way: “Have you had enough yet? Can I phone you next week?” Ann and Sarah continue to enjoy each other's company.
Ann would encourage everyone to try volunteering. Studies have shown that meaningful activities, and in particular giving to others, can offer us a sense of purpose, and improve health and happiness. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of your time. If you're interested in signing up to volunteer, as a telephone befriender or in any other Communities 1st roles, click here.
Written by Etain Ferdenzi (Volunteer)