How a life was 'transformed'
Age UK Norfolk volunteers don’t come forward to help hoping for lavish praise; but Brenda Barnes could be forgiven for feeling that warm glow that comes with such things when told that she had transformed someone’s life!
Brenda, from East Ruston, received this accolade from her 'client', retired clergyman the Rev Roger Parsons, to whom she was introduced by Sue Greaves, Money Matters & Advocacy Assistant Manager at Age UK Norfolk. Mr Parsons has been a resident at the Halvergate House care home, North Walsham, for 2 years.In short, she sorted out his finances – and his life!
Brenda, who became an Age UK Norfolk volunteer last year, said that Mr Parsons was concerned about his financial affairs; he was, for example, convinced he had made a will, but didn’t know where it was. Another priest had helped him with financial matters for several years, but had himself become quite ill and decided to contact Age UK Norfolk.
Then Brenda came along to help and found out exactly what was needed via Age UK Norfolk’s Money Matters and Advocacy service.
'I came to meet Roger, and we got on like a house on fire' she said.'Starting off, it was like being a detective. He had no idea where anything was, and it was a case of my doing a bit of detective work. We were very lucky and were able to track down the will. Now I usually visit about once a month to check paperwork, and make sure the direct debits are all in order.'
Brenda decided to volunteer after seeing an article in the Eastern Daily Press and realising that things she was already doing for her own parents were similar to those carried out by volunteers.
'They were fine about doing paperwork, but always wanted a second opinion, or for things to be checked' said Brenda.'It struck me that there are an awful lot of people out there who don’t have a Brenda, or any close friends and family to trust with their money. I was used to dealing with money, and filling in forms. I thought I could do this for other people – so decided to become a volunteer.'
Mr Parsons had retired to Sheringham after a long and varied career in the ministry. Originally from Uckfield, in Sussex, he was ordained in 1969, having used his skill as a musician and music teacher to help him pay for his training. A keyboard in his room at Halvergate House is testament to this, probably his first love. His was not an easy ministry. After serving in a parish in Southampton, he went to two London parishes, at Clerkenwell and Hoxton, where, as assistant priest, he had many extra responsibilities – including a hospital, a nursing home and a school – as well as taking it upon himself to support poorer members of the community as best he could. He is happy at Halvergate House, and Brenda has played a large part in helping him.
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