Mary and John’s Story
Mary was referred to the Neighbourhood Care Scheme by Social Services when she was 68. She had been knocked down by a car when crossing the road at the Lewes Road gyratory, and had lost her confidence about going out. She wanted someone to accompany her to the London Road shops. That was in 2000. We found a volunteer for her that year. It was not until 2003, however, after she had moved into sheltered accommodation, that we introduced her to John. Here’s what he wrote about his volunteering earlier this year:
“I started volunteering with the NCS, I’d guess about 10 years ago – and was put in touch with a lady who lived near me, in sheltered accommodation. She wanted someone to go shopping with her, and this I did – for a couple of hours each week for quite a few years. I found her a very amiable, cheerful person; quite scatty (the stamps she collected once blew out of the window, and often littered the floor). She played the violin and enjoyed drawing; and was very easy to get on with. In spite of her scattiness she had a good memory too, until one day quite suddenly it failed and she began turning up at shops to meet me on the wrong day, taking taxis without her money, and it was soon apparent she was becoming unable to look after herself. She went into a home (a good one) where she still is today. I still visit her, approximately once a week. She can just about remember my name (sometimes I have to remind her) – but she is quite cheerful, and still fun to talk to.
“I am glad of the opportunity to meet her (and another lady at the same accommodation who I also shopped for, for a while). I feel it has been worthwhile, not only for her but for me. The NCS is a good organisation who were very helpful to me when the lady’s memory was failing and I found it difficult to get official bodies to take an interest. They advised, and emailed social services on her behalf. They do a good job; fostering community spirit, matching people up who may be able to help each other.”
Last month, we got in touch with Mary’s care home to see how she was getting on. The staff told us that the John’s visits are going really well. She ‘lights up’ when she sees him. He is very patient with her, and they look at her stamps together. He is now Mary’s only visitor, so makes a big difference.
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