Chef Nikki, started shopping and ‘looking out for’ brothers Leonard and Ronald at the beginning of lockdown when she was furloughed. It was a match made in heaven, with Nikki finding the two brothers a delight to support and the brothers increasingly looking forward to each visit from Nikki.
Nikki’s volunteer experience and strong bond with Leonard and Ronald are a reminder of the impact the services Age Connects deliver and the very real difference they make – to both clients and volunteers.
In Nikki’s words:
‘I started volunteering with Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale at the beginning of lockdown.
‘I am a chef and was furloughed by the company I work for, Restaurant Associates. I felt very lucky to be well looked after by the company and, with extra time on my hands, I decided I needed to give something back and hopefully make a difference to somebody who wasn’t so fortunate. I particularly wanted to give something back to my local community so I searched for local charities. This is when I stumbled across Age Connects.
‘I knew that there were a lot of vulnerable older people needing help and support before the pandemic and that this need would no doubt be more so during these difficult times. Being fit and healthy, I was desperate to help, so I got in touch and have not looked back!
‘My main clients are Leonard and Ronald, two brothers aged 93 and 86 – and they are incredible! Very charming with a wonderful zest for life and a fabulous sense of humour! They are Cardiff born and bred and very proud of that. They are the only surviving siblings of six (three brothers and one sister) and they have a very strong bond. Leonard served in the Royal Air Force towards the end of World War 2 while his brother Ronald was in the Army. Their service is important to them and they both enjoy telling me stories of war times, what it was like when Cardiff was bombed, food rationing etc. The stories are endless and I could listen to them all day!
‘Also, since lockdown, I have taken on a plot at an allotment. Leonard and Ronald love this as they both have a huge interest in gardening and they enjoy giving me tips and hearing my progress. They have a small garden and I noticed it needed some TLC. Leonard explained that he hasn’t been too good on his feet lately and has been unable to maintain it, so with my help and Leonard’s expertise and close watch – whilst maintaining social distance of course - we brought it back to life. It is now a peaceful little haven where they can sit outside on their bench and enjoy the flowers.
‘Volunteering for Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale is something I will continue to do once “normal life” resumes. I find it incredibly rewarding and fulfilling and it gives me so much more than I ever thought it would. I don’t see it as a chore, but something I look forward to. My times with Leonard and Ronald are precious.
‘A charity like Age Connects is a vital, greatly needed resource within our community. Some people do not have the luxury of lots of family and friends around them. It has been a truly rewarding experience for me and through this experience I have found two new friends in Leonard and Ronald’.
Not surprisingly, Leonard and Ronald feel the same! Speaking on behalf of himself and his younger brother, Leonard explains: ‘Seeing Nikki is a real highlight of our week – we look forward to her visits so much. She is so bubbly and down to earth and takes a great interest in the stories we tell of our past. We love gardening but find it quite difficult to manage now. Nikki has an allotment and so also shares our gardening passion. She has been so kind in looking after our garden – with our advice and top tips of course. It’s made such a difference – we now have a pretty, quiet spot for my brother and I to sit and enjoy. Nikki has been an incredible support and is now a friend. Thank you Nikki.’