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"It’s a great feeling, helping and supporting others."

Elaine volunteers for Royal Voluntary Service as a Community Companion. She also gives her time as a Steward Volunteer, supporting the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Elaine offers invaluable support to those in need.

In her role, Elaine provides support to members of the community who are older, isolated, or simply in need of someone to chat with. Elaine's journey as a Community Companion began when she was paired with someone who had recently been discharged from hospital and was struggling with loneliness.

"When we were first paired up, they had recently come out of the hospital. They’d also moved to a new area and, as a result, had lost their community connections. They were living alone and were feeling quite isolated, which was only intensified by the pandemic and lockdowns.

"Together, over the past three years, we have built a good friendship. We always have a laugh together and it’s a great feeling being able to help and support someone.

"In addition to weekly catch-up calls, we get out and about together too. We always have a good time and genuinely enjoy each other’s company."

Elaine volunteers as a Steward Volunteer completing shifts at local vaccination sites in her area. The vaccination programme would not have been as successful without incredible volunteers like Elaine whose efforts protected communities and saved lives.

One of Elaine’s highlights of steward volunteering has been the great friendships she has made.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed stewarding because of the supportive team we have formed and the appreciation we feel from the public and NHS staff at the vaccination site.

"We all feel so valued and know that we are Playing Our Part in helping people to get their vaccinations. But we are providing more than just practical help. We are also there to be an extra pair of eyes and ears for someone who might just need a little bit extra help that day. We can take them to one side and help to ease any anxieties or just be a listening ear for their worries. I feel so lucky to be able to provide this support and go home feeling positive and happy."

As a wheelchair user, Elaine also felt that she could offer an understanding and empathy with many of the people she would be supporting.

"I’ve been in a wheelchair for seven years and I know what local support is available for those that need it, I can signpost individuals and their families to relevant services in our area that they might not be aware of and help to make a positive change in their lives.

"It’s a great feeling, helping and supporting others."

Elaine highly recommends volunteering to anyone who is considering it.

"It doesn’t matter what disability you’ve got, there is always something you can do to help others. It can take a little bit of extra planning in terms of logistics but there is always a role that will be suitable, from providing telephone companionship to stewarding at a welcome desk. I would highly recommend it to others. It’s helped me to get out of the house and makes me feel happier and healthier."

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