There are some very special relationships between the older people that we help and the volunteers who get alongside them. The 98 year old lady below looks forward immensely to the company of her regular volunteer on the right, and when that volunteer goes on holiday, we also provide a substitute to spend a few hours a week chatting, sitting together or going out for a coffee.
The next photos show one of our coffee mornings for clients. The 82 year old lady on the left relies on Careplus for lifts to the hospital. She is in severe pain much of the time and finds our lifts far more manageable than hospital transport, which usually involves a lot of waiting around.
This pair of shoes illustrates the range of small practical tasks done by our volunteers, which mean so much to our clients. An 87 year old diabetic client with very swollen feet needed a pair of comfy, soft, adjustable shoes or slippers to wear to our annual Tea party (among other things). Our volunteer helped find them online and will also provide a lift to the Tea, of course.
Gentle Exercise classes
Our 3 classes have had very enjoyable spring terms. In the West Bromley class, the average age of participants is 83, and all except one have ranked it ‘5 out of 5’ for suitability for their physical condition (one lady gave it 4 out of 5).
Feedback includes: ‘The pain in my lower back and right shoulder from a fall 3 or 4 years ago has gone … People say I’m walking more upright … I can now get out of an armchair without using the arms.’
We have some amazing volunteers, including Jane who’s just received an award from Community Links Bromley* for ‘Outstanding Commitment.’ Her profile reads: ‘Jane has done training in Adult Safeguarding levels 1 and 2, dementia awareness and first aid. She drives many miles to get clients to appointments with their dentist, GP and/or several local hospitals. Jane also manages trips to other clinics, the Blind Club, the post office and bank. This is all done in a professional manner, calmly, wisely, humbly and lovingly.’
Our volunteers have several training opportunities available to them:
● Free local classes on weekdays at Community Links
● Free online training provided for residents by Bromley borough (MeLearning).
● For the first time, group training in Safeguarding, now available at weekends for volunteers who work on weekdays.
Finally … experts agree that charities like Careplus play an important role
A report on the relational and economic impact of visiting and befriending, prepared for the St Vincent de Paul Society by Oxera Consulting LLP in 2015, found marked benefits to individuals who are visited or befriended, as well as economic impacts:
● improved quality of life for the recipients of the visiting or befriending
● reduced costs to the NHS
● reduced costs of social security in the long term
Prepared by Miranda Suit,
Coordinator of Volunteers
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