During my final year of university, a friend told me about the Help at Hand befriending project. Everything about the project sounded appealing. Working as a care worker with Enable Scotland, I had already supported a lot of children and adults, but I hadn’t helped any older people. So I contacted the Help at Hand project, filled out the necessary forms and got matched with Kay. I was excited to start volunteering; I’d only ever done paid work, so it felt right that I should give volunteering a go.
Kay is truly wonderful, and I really enjoy spending time with her. At first, I was a bit nervous. I felt like a stranger entering someone’s life – but befriending has been a great experience for me. I’ve learnt that every period of silence does not have to be filled, nor does it have to be awkward. When I first started visiting Kay, I noticed that she was shy and would only leave her home to walk her dog around the garden.
Once I helped Kay build up her confidence, we started going on walks around Callander and then further afield into Stirling where she once lived. I encouraged her to join a social group with one of her friends and Age Scotland also visits her home now. I helped her re-connect with old friends and family by fixing her phone. My experience with Kay taught me that sometimes shy people just need to build up their confidence so they can start to become active again within their community.
Even though my befriending match has ended, I still keep in touch with Kay. She has become a friend. I am also going to take this experience with me when I start my Masters in Psychology. I plan to specialise in primary care and clinical psychology in elderly care. My time with Kay has given me some valuable insights into what life is like for many elderly people in the UK.