Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.
In the next installment of our Volunteers’ Week
series, we hear from a family whose father has been supported and enriched by Royal Voluntary Service volunteers
“My father was widowed in 2009. He and my late mother were rarely apart during their 50 year marriage, so the loneliness my Dad felt was profound. For a year or so, Dad struggled to re-build his life and maintain his independence. But, as he began to lose physical and mental capacity, this became increasingly difficult.
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“In 2012, Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the following year, it was confirmed he was also suffering from Parkinson’s. These illnesses significantly impaired Dad’s ability to get out and meet people and increased his sense of isolation and loneliness. He had carers calling in throughout the day but their fleeting and functional visits didn’t amount to meaningful company. The Royal Voluntary Service Good Neighbours service has been such an enormous benefit for Dad.
“Linda began visiting Dad in 2013. Dad is an accomplished writer, who has had plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and overseas and has also featured in the Guardian’s Country Diary. He has a vast collection of unpublished prose and poetry including numerous funny poems written for his 7 grandchildren over the years. Dad was keen to get all the pieces properly typed up and edited and he wanted to regain confidence using his computer so he could start writing again.
“For an hour each week, Linda patiently worked through his literary archive and helped him with his keyboard skills. They quickly developed a great rapport and Dad really looked forward to her visits. The company was great for him and he was boosted by the help that Linda gave him.
“When Linda stopped volunteering to look after her grandchild, our local service arranged for Fran to visit Dad and continue to help with his writing archive and his computer skills. They spent a lot of time talking and Dad particularly liked to discuss Fran’s progress with her university studies. This gave him the opportunity to slip back into his former professional role as a teacher and university lecturer. He particularly enjoyed offering Fran advice on her assignments and giving her encouragement. Whilst his Alzheimer’s progressed during the two years Fran visited Dad, he had sufficient capacity to feel he was doing something useful and this gave him a great sense of satisfaction.
“I don’t think elderly people in Dad’s position ever really get over the loss of a long term partner and rebuilding their lives after bereavement is hugely challenging. This is why the regular contact and company provided by Royal Voluntary Service volunteers through Good Neighbours scheme is so important. For people like my Dad, it has provided a lifeline; helping to him to combat his loneliness and maintain his independence.”
Read our previous blog in our Volunteers' Week series Meet our volunteers during Volunteers' Week 2016.