Rachel supports several scheme members via the St John’s the Hand in Hand social prescribing service. Many of the scheme members are lonely and isolated. In some cases, they have no friends or family locally to support them. This can lessen their quality of life and make living independently more difficult.
The role of Befriender is simply to offer companionship. Rachel, however, has gone above and beyond what is expected of her. She embraces her voluntary role to the fullest extent and ensures all her Befriendee’s needs are met.
These are just a few stories and examples of why we have put Rachel forward for the ‘local hero’ recognition award:
Deborah’s Story: Going above and beyond during lockdown
During the first national lockdown, Rachel carried out various jobs for our scheme member Deborah. She completed tasks such as shopping, posting items, bringing homemade food, cooked lunches and dinner, changing her bed, washed up, and helping Deborah with laundry. She even took her pet tortoise home to look after whilst Deborah felt unable to do so. A true testament of her character!
What’s more, Rachel purchased a key safe to provide extra security. This was also as a result of an incident where Deborah was unable to open the door to her home. She then arranged for a neighbour to fit it. This has been beneficial as relevant people can access the house to check in on Deborah. Whilst waiting for Social Services to provide additional support, Rachel visited her Befriendee daily. Rachel supported Deborah to stay in her home for longer by making sure she was eating and drinking enough and by undertaking some of her household chores so that she had the energy to recover. Rachel continued to ring Deborah, even when Social Services formally took over. These call ensured continuity and a friendly voice was there to assist her with her transition.
Clearly, if Rachel had not supported Deborah during this critical, isolating and difficult time, she would have more likely ended up in hospital. This would have put her at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and would have potentially worsened her condition.
Pamela’s Story: Supporting a difficult house move
Pamela was due to move into her new flat just as the first lockdown hit in mid-March but was sadly hospitalised. Rachel requested an extension for Pamela to remain in her own home for another month. However, this was not possible. With no one else to help Pamela, Rachel (with Pamela’s consent) offered to oversee the move in her absence. It was a huge task to undertake. Rachel received the new tenancy and keys for Pamela’s new home. She also checked all was in hand and handed back the keys to the former residence.
Additionally, Pamela lives with dementia. Rachel photographed the rooms and the layout of her dining room table as it was before the move so that she could make it up in the same way in Deborah’s new flat in preparation for her home coming. This provided familiarity and helped with Deborah’s home coming.
Pamela 2’s Story: Encouragement to attend an activity club
Rachel felt it would be beneficial for her Befriendee, Pamela, to meet other like-minded older people. She invited Pamela along to a Monday Club; she was very excited about as it happened to fall on the same day as her 83rd Birthday. To enable her to attend, Rachel needed to organise a wheelchair from St John’s Winchester. She offered to transport other local members to and from the venue. Rachel added that she “can fit 2 more people in my car, plus walking aids if needed!”
Rachel made a birthday cake to celebrate Pamela’s birthday, which she took along to the Monday Club (aptly named the “Alive and Kicking” club) for all to enjoy with their morning coffee! This was a special touch that helped Pamela to celebrate her birthday and connect with other members of the club.
Rachel is a prime example of how important it is to support those in the local community who may be vulnerable. Taking the time to offer support, friendship, and guidance can have a genuine, positive impact.
We are very proud of Rachel, our volunteers, and the entire St John’s family for all that they do and work to achieve. THANK YOU!