Our amazing volunteer Dulcie is 90 years old and provides befriending companionship to two clients – both younger than her, demonstrating that age is no barrier to volunteering.
We caught up with Dulcie to find out what volunteering means to her.
‘Why did I become a volunteer with Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale?
I had reached the stage where no-one depended on me – I was a widow and the family had left home etc. had the time to find something useful to do to help others and so joined my local Good Neighbours scheme. It was fulfilling to do shopping for clients and to take them to doctors’ appointments etc but then, being of more mature years, I began to realise it was getting too arduous for me, with walkers to fold up and lift in to the car. I had seen enough to realise there was a great need for companionship and friendship and seeing that there was a local charity looking for befriending volunteers, I was only too happy to apply to Age Connects.
The application and initial training didn’t take too long and I started phoning two local ladies, but now that Covid restrictions have been eased I am able to visit them. Seeing the difficult circumstances they have to contend with and with no family help, it has only made me realise how many more could be helped by letting people know the needs of lonely people. I also realised that, although I was brought up during the years of austerity in the 1930s and 40s, my life was now full. With a family of two sons and a daughter, seven grandchildren and two great grandsons, I had all I could wish for.
Being an older volunteer brought additional benefits. I can reminisce with my clients about the old times together, and I know they appreciate going back to “the good old days”. We never run short of things to talk about and we can look back to happier times rather than discuss gloomy news and the limitations of today’s TV programmes!
Recently I’ve learnt that It pays to be careful how far you take things when you want to be helpful. I collected some audio books for a one of my clients who has severe sight impairment recently and included Jane Eyre as an old classic, only to find it was a modern version, “an old story with a modern erotic twist,” - obviously I thought I’d better not leave it with her!
I have found it doesn’t take much effort to pick up the phone for a chat and when you realise that person hasn’t seen or spoken to anyone for days. It’s a humbling experience, and I only wish I had started befriending volunteering years ago.
I would encourage everyone who can to volunteer with Age Connects – it brings so much to older, isolated members of our local community and is so rewarding for the volunteer too – whatever age!’