Q: Why did you start volunteering for Hand in Hand?
A: I started volunteering as I had recently retired, and I was looking for something to do to fill my free days. My daughter is actually one of the Wellbeing Co-Ordinators for Hand in Hand at St John’s Winchester. When she got the role and started telling me about the service, I decided that this is what I wanted to do.
Volunteering for St John’s Hand in Hand has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself. How have you found volunteering so far?
A: I apprenticed as a carpenter, and eventually started my own business. I took voluntary redundancy and officially retired at 60. I had a lot of spare time (going from working every day to nothing) and needed something in my life for me to fill my days, and give me purpose.
Life can be very busy, especially when you are working. You don’t always get the time to do things you would want to do, like volunteering, and now I have that time. I think my daughter can tell you how much I used to work. It’s quite difficult, looking back, realising how much I was away and working. In a similar way, the scheme members of the Hand in Hand service experience this themselves. Their children have now grown up and are in the working, busy phase of their life that they once were, but now they as the parent may need a bit of extra time and support.
Life is all about balance. I hope that volunteering and supporting my scheme member has helped to restore the balance.
In my spare time, I enjoy playing snooker and love cooking in particular – I do most of the cooking at home. I also enjoy gardening (I grow lots: runner beans, radishes, hanging baskets, you name it). I actually promised my scheme member some runner beans and peas from my garden. It’s a hobby that we share and can bond over.
It’s all about making connections, and building friendships.
I have built a wonderful relationship with my scheme member. In fact, every time I knock on the door, there is a nice, big smile on her face. The first thing she asks me is, “how’s your wife? How are you?”
She is genuinely interested to hear from and see me, and seems more concerned and interested in me and my family than herself. She’s such a lovely, wonderful woman and I get so much out of visiting her. Hand in Hand try to match you to a scheme member based on interests, preferences and personalities, and now when I see my scheme member it’s like visiting a friend.
This blog post is part of national Volunteers’ Week (1st – 7th June 2019). #VolunteersWeek – get involved and #ShareYourStory!