Throughout Volunteers' Week, we’ll be catching up with some of our volunteers to hear about their experiences of volunteering for Re-engage and what makes them tick.
Julia became a call companion coordinator when she was furloughed from her full-time job during lockdown.
Why did you decide to volunteer for Re-engage?
I wanted to make a difference and do something worthwhile during lockdown. Furloughed from my full-time job, I needed an activity to focus on and give me a sense of purpose. I initially applied to be a call companion, but when I heard that there was a great need for call companion coordinators, I offered my time as a coordinator instead. I currently manage two teams.
What does your role involve?
Once a call companion has been matched with an older person, I set up introductory calls to get to know them both. I like to find out a bit about the older person’s interests and hobbies, and it’s important that I run through some safety points before I set up their first call.
I always check in with them both from time to time to make sure that they are happy and enjoying the calls. And I offer advice and support to the volunteers, particularly when they may have had an emotionally challenging call, which happened more often in the winter lockdown.
What's the best thing about being a volunteer for Re-engage?
I absolutely love it when I call an older person and their call companion for the first time and it becomes clear that they have shared interests. I just know that they are going to hit it off! When an older person tells me that their calls are the best part of their week, it truly makes me glow inside just to know that we are making such a positive difference.
What makes you get out of bed every morning?
My dog Norman! He is always so happy and excited to see me that I cannot fail to start the day with a smile.
Do you have a favourite saying or quote that you live by?
I have a little card in the kitchen to remind me that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. During the pandemic, I often found myself simply saying, “be kind”, as many people were struggling in lots of different ways.
What would you say to anyone who was thinking about becoming a volunteer?
During the pandemic, having a weekly call with an older person helped me put things in perspective. When I was feeling sorry for myself, I had to remind myself that I'm not house bound, I'm in good health and I have access to technology to keep me connected to friends and family. But most of all, I still have many experiences ahead of me! I have wonderful conversations with the lovely lady that I speak to once a week and we cover so many different topics. Our calls are so gratifying.
'Isolation is seen by LGBT+ older people as the price they have to pay'
By Re-engage CEO, Meryl Davies
By Meryl Davies, CEO
Meet 88-year-old Lionel, one of our call companion coordinators
During Volunteers' Week we're celebrating our volunteers. Meet Lionel, one of our call companion coordinators.