Joan, 76, is from Belfast and decided to put her past experience as an Occupational Therapist to use through the My Life My Way programme.
I read about Age NI’s My Life My Way programme in a local newspaper and I thought it would be a good cause to put my hand to - I consider myself lucky at 76 to be physically and actively able to help those who are not so able themselves.
I volunteer with two ladies currently; both named Margaret, spending 1 hour a week with each of them in their homes, either the morning or evening, whichever they prefer. I find it very easy and enjoyable to just be there for them, whether it’s to talk about their day, their worries or just have a good laugh. Being of a similar age, I can relate to them and their stories, like VE day parties and other memories.
If they are particularly concerned about an issue, I will ask them if they would like me to pass this on to someone who can help and support them, such as my Age NI supervisor - I find it very important to be an impartial listener and not someone who is trying to fix everything for them all the time, especially as I am a friend to these ladies and they often want someone to confide in. The most important thing is to respect who you are matched with and their way of life.
The first lady I was matched up with I have particularly fond memories of she was in her 90’s and has unfortunately passed away. We both loved singing, so on my visits I would make us a cup of tea, play some Irish folk songs such as ‘Kitty of Coleraine’ on my iPad and we would sing along together. After her passing, I was thanked by various family members for my time spent with her, as before her enrolment on the scheme she had spoken about feelings of loneliness, so it was great to know the work of volunteers does make an impact.
For anyone considering taking part in the My Life My Way programme, go for it – it’s a wonderful, rewarding experience and a small way to make a big difference to someone’s day!
To volunteer, fill out the volunteer form, telephone 028 9024 5729 or email firstname.lastname@example.org