After recovering from a heart attack, Ian was ready to go home but his wife doesn’t drive and he wasn’t well enough to use public transport. He arranged a lift with the Royal Voluntary Service and got chatting to the volunteer driver from our transport scheme in Fife, one of many services across Great Britain which has benefitted from funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
“I remember talking to the driver and thinking it must be nice to volunteer if you have time. I thought about it a bit more and then gave my local office a ring. I went down and had a chat; I went through all of the checks and then I started volunteering as part of the transport service. I signed up to be a driver. I’ve been a volunteer at Central and West Fife Transport Service for nearly three years now.”
The number of hours Ian spends volunteering vary from week to week, he often drives people to the shops, to hospital appointments or sometimes just to help them get out and above.
“The people I drive know me; I’ve built a relationship with them and sometimes they can be reluctant about meeting new people. I recently went to visit my Mum in Worcestershire for a week and the office had to arrange cover for me. I felt bad that I was letting people down and missing my regular shifts.”
One of Ian’s regulars is Joe Reid, a 73-year-old who started using the transport service nearly a year ago. Ian spends a couple of hours every week with Joe and the schedule rarely varies.
“Ian picks me up at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon. We do my errands and then we go to the supermarket to do my weekly shop. My mobility isn’t good and Ian gets the electric trolley for me and helps me put all the shopping in. He knows what I want and always asks me for a list but I never bother. He keeps me right.”
Ian and Joe have become firm friends over the past year, and knowing that Joe would be on his own over Christmas, Ian invited him to sample some of his cooking.
“I really enjoy Joe’s company. He came and spent Christmas with us; he’s like one of the family now. He had a snooze in the armchair!”
Volunteering has made a big difference to Ian’s life.
“I have a deeper appreciation of older people and their problems now. It’s difficult for people to get from A to B, especially if they’re like Joe and have mobility problems or they live in a rural area. It’s really important to offer a service like the transport service.
“Volunteering has definitely made my life more interesting too I feel quite privileged that I am trusted to help, I think the Royal Voluntary Service badge shows that I’m trusted and respected and I get a lot of satisfaction from that.”
“Knowing that Ian is coming over puts my mind at ease. I know that he’ll help me and make sure I do everything I need to do. Before when I used to ask a neighbour, I was always wondering if they’d have time but I know now that Ian will keep me right.”
Find out more about volunteering in your area or make a donation to beat loneliness in older people.