I joined NCS a year ago to visit a gentleman with a respiratory condition. He gets out of breath very easily and rarely walks. At the time, he was living in his house near the office and I would visit him once a week after work.
The first time, I was excited but also slightly apprehensive. Would he feel comfortable with me? Would he be able to talk much? Afterwards, he asked Impetus if I was gay; that reminded me that older generations had it more difficult, because he only felt comfortable enough to open up when he learnt that I am. After a couple of meetings, it got easier and easier. He was more relaxed and started bringing up memories.
Then, his health deteriorated and he moved to a care home a half hour from the office. He cancelled our chats and I didn’t see him for almost two months. However, when we met again after such a long break he seemed to truly cheer up. For the first time since I’d met him, he stood up and greeted me with a hug. I realised that, with his family living far away, I might have been the one constant between life at his house and life at the care home.
When the conversation dies out, I’ve learnt to ask him about his experiences; his childhood, first jobs, travels. The more he shares with me, the more I naturally care about him.
If you are considering volunteering I highly recommend it. It is greatly rewarding, you learn about yourself, about them, about people and about life – but it’s also demanding, it’s critical you be consistent and reliable.
Thank you Alexandre for writing about your experience of befriending and for the time you’ve given to NCS over the last year. It’s clear that you’ve made a big difference to your scheme member’s life.
Could you be a volunteer like Alexandre?
Find out about Impetus’ volunteer vacancies.