We spoke to Catherine and Remo who volunteer to make friendship calls to find out how volunteering with our vital service makes a difference to them and the people they call every week.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Age Cymru?
I was already volunteering with Age Cymru with their friends sessions. I heard of this and thought it was a really worthwhile cause and wanted to be involved.
I think it’s to do with my character, I’m a really sociable person and I just love meeting people. I’ve reached a point in my life where I have the time to take on things that I like, this has involved a lot of volunteering. It’s through these volunteering experiences that I found out about Age Cymru. Pre pandemic I was a Nordic Walking group leader, helping people get out of the house as well as getting exercise. I’ve been volunteering for the last 10 years and am so pleased to be able to continue volunteering during a pandemic.
What have you learnt by volunteering with Age Cymru?
I've met a lot of lovely friends. I’ve learnt to really listen to what people need, and generally that’s all that someone needs, just someone to listen. It gives me an incredibly good feeling afterwards. Ken, who I’m paired up with, always says it’s so lovely to hear my voice whenever I call him. We always have a laugh and joke when we talk.
Volunteering with Age Cymru has made me realise that there are people far worse off than yourself. It’s really humbling and I’ve realised that there’s a lot I can do to help my community. It’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’ve also benefited from the phone calls. I’ve met so many nice people and many I would class as my friends now.
There’s no pressure at all, it’s just a friendly chat with someone. I’ve found people who live in my community that I didn’t know before, and the chats help my own wellbeing as well as the person I’m talking to.
Has volunteering with Age Cymru changed your view on loneliness?
It definitely has. It’s made me understand what other people go through, especially mental health issues because of loneliness, which I’m lucky enough to have never gone through myself. It’s incredibly easy to do, it only takes about an hour out of my day, whereas it makes all the difference to the person I’m talking to.
Yes, it’s made me see that there are a lot of lonely people out there, and how other people are living and the difficulties they are facing. You don’t realise that the simple things you do are so important to someone else and can have a massive impact on their day.
Any other comments?
Definitely go for it, it doesn’t cost anything. It’s nice to talk to someone else, especially right now when you are limited to who you can see. It’s a two way street as I get a lot out of it as well. I’m a lot happier since volunteering with Age Cymru, as I’ve missed helping people. I think everyone should do it.
Working with Age Cymru has made me appreciate general life, and that life is something special. The person I call weekly is now my friend, he looks forward to my calls and it’s the highlight of his day. Age Cymru managed to match me perfectly with my friend in need. We have similar interests and can be chatting for hours about books.
If these volunteer stories have inspired you to volunteer, then please join our vital friendship service and you make a huge difference to the lives of older people in Wales. Join us today