Trevor and his wife Ann are both 82 years old and live in Barry. Trevor’s son-in-law, Bill, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and was referred to Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale for support at the start of the Coronavirus lockdown. Volunteer Amanda was allocated to provide shopping support for Bill and his wife, Jan. Amanda became aware that Jan’s parents also required support and so now she shops for both couples with whom she has become firm friends.
Amanda has been a volunteer with Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale since the Coronavirus lockdown began in March. Before that, although she had always wanted to volunteer, she had found it a little tricky due to her work commitments.
She explains: ‘As the UK went into lockdown and I was placed on furlough, volunteering seemed like the right thing to do with my spare time. I could see vulnerable and older people were crying out for help whilst they were self-isolating or shielding and that’s when I made contact with Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale.
‘I have been lucky enough to be able to support two fantastic couples. I was originally assigned to Jan and Bill to help them with their weekly shopping. After my first visit, it became apparent that Jan’s parents also needed help and so I asked Age Connects to arrange for Trevor and Ann to be set up with the charity as well, which they were happy to do. For the last 13 weeks I have delivered shopping to Trevor and Ann too. We’ve had socially distanced chats in the garden and have already planned to have a social drink when we can!
Amanda would encourage others to access Age Connects services, either for themselves, family members or friends in need. She says: ‘Having been involved in delivering the services that Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale make available on our doorstep, I would encourage anyone who needs assistance to get in touch with the charity. Age Connects is very supportive and the welfare of its clients is its priority. They keep in constant contact with clients to ensure a high quality service and no task is too big or too small’.
We asked Amanda what impact she feels that volunteering has had on her? ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my volunteering experience so far. As I have got older, I have wanted a job that makes a difference to people in a positive way. I really enjoy my career in the corporate world of retail but it doesn’t give me the fulfilment of a hands-on job working with members of the general public needing support. Volunteering with Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale has given me the opportunity to make a real difference and the satisfaction I get from the role has been very rewarding.
‘I feel like I’ve found friends that I will stay in touch with long after lockdown’.
As the Coronavirus pandemic took hold, the lockdown began and the government’s instruction to ‘stay home’ was made very clear, Trevor became increasingly concerned about how he and his wife, as well as his daughter and son-in-law, would access shopping.
Trevor explains: ‘My son-in-law is in the most vulnerable category and required support for him and his wife. It was therefore impossible for him to assist my wife and I and it was a very really worry.
‘Then I heard about the excellent shopping service that Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale had started to provide for my daughter and son-in-law. Amanda, their volunteer, made enquiries with the charity on my behalf and I was so relieved when they confirmed they were able to support my wife and I too. Amanda has been helping us with our shopping ever since’.
Trevor is full of praise for Amanda: ‘She is just such a lovely, friendly person. Totally reliable, Amanda is always so cheerful and full of beans. She always shows real concern for our welfare, not just helping us with our shopping, but ringing us up during the week just to say hello and to check how we are doing. We feel unbelievably lucky to have met Amanda and to have her support, even though it has been under the most difficult circumstances.
‘The whole Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale shopping support service has been so reliable and easy to organise. We send through our shopping list each Wednesday and Amanda delivers it to us on Thursday. I always follow up with a thank you text to her as we’re just so grateful.
‘Amanda really has been our angel – and always goes that extra mile. One week we had put the ever-elusive flour on our shopping list, which just wasn’t available. Amanda found some while doing her own family shopping and dropped it to us – what a lovely thing to do.
‘Another time I happened to mention to Amanda that my wife likes jigsaw puzzles and, on her next visit, Amanda brought some for Ann to do.
‘We couldn’t wish for anyone nicer and it’s a total pleasure to see her each week. We’re all really looking forward to getting together in person when the situation eases!’