I initially joined Royal Voluntary Service because I had retired, and felt in a way I'd lost a sense of purpose. Also at this time I lost my best friend to cancer, having been her carer during the last months of her life. Though she'd been an inspiration, I was bereft, and this was when I realised what loneliness was and how seriously it can affect a person's health.
I started off working in the shop/coffee bar of my local hospital and taking the trolley around the wards one day a week, then joined the community companions team, visiting two lovely ladies in their homes.
One day I had the opportunity to attend courses on Dementia Awareness and Resilience Training, which helped me understand why alcohol can start to have a negative impact as people get older, and this spurred me on to take up new volunteering challenges. As a result I set up an art class for over 50s and another one in an assisted living complex for older people. Now we have a class every other week – eight people messing about with some paints, a cup of coffee and a Welsh cake.
Volunteering has been a very rewarding experience, you could say it saved me. On the down side, the housework has fallen by the wayside.