I retired a few years ago after a career with Stirling Council and I wanted to give something back. I used to take my 2 elderly sisters on holidays and trips away and although we were a tight knit family, I always felt that my sisters were at times living in isolation.
Last year, I was speaking to a friend who mentioned that she had a befriender. I could tell that this meant a lot to her and could help decrease isolation. I did some research and found Volunteering Matters. I applied, completed the recruitment process and was then matched with a lovely lady called Ena.
Ena suffers from dementia and at times can be a little confused. On our first few visits, we went to places of interest like the local museum. Ena got quite animated when she saw old household items from years gone by and spoke of her gran who used to heat the iron from the hob! Ena also really enjoyed seeing a demonstration of weaving because she could remember her gran doing this when she was a small child.
On another visit, Ena and I took the Park and Ride bus into Stirling. She hadn’t been on a bus in years and was fascinated with all the new changes to the town. We go a look round the shops and Ena enjoys a cuppa. When we are out, we have agreed that we each pay alternative weeks. I feel by taking turns this gives Ena mutuality.
More recently, Ena and I have engaged in some community groups and met other people. When we first visited a local singing and lunch group, Ena was a bit anxious but after some reassurance she joined in the singing and is now relaxed. She chats with everyone else and has met some new friends.
Ena’s diagnosis of dementia means she sometimes asks the same question over and over. I recognise Ena’s vulnerability but during the time I have spent with her, a trusting bond has formed between us. Ena knows that I will look after her, take her home at the end of the day and make sure she is safe. I feel empathic towards Ena because I really don’t know how she sees the world.
The time I have spent with Ena has given me a lot. She is really sweet and we have a laugh and a joke. It’s only a few hours a week but it’s great to see Ena enjoying herself. Volunteering gives me a feel good factor and I look forward to every Wednesday.