Christmas Gathering

I popped into the Age UK office in Salisbury yesterday. A mince pie/coffee morning for volunteers. Because I only go to the office at a pretty set time each week, I tend to see the same few faces, so these social events are good opportunities to meet volunteers who I don’t see from week-to-week.

Yesterday, I met a lovely woman who did the same as me (telephone befriending) but who had only started doing it a few weeks ago. I mean, I’m still very much a noob myself, but at least I have a few months under my belt. Of course the conversation was limited to generalities so as to protect our clients’ confidentiality, but we both had similar experiences. This woman admitted to being very computer-illiterate, so only a couple of weeks in, feels like she’s fighting against the program that Age UK use. To be honest I consider myself very computer-literate, and still find some of the same. I tend to only push the buttons I need to complete my specific task, although the system does a lot more. Plus, I expect there’s a lot of stuff it wouldn’t allow me to see, even if I did look around.

I also met the Age UK employee who asked me to become a telephone befriender in the first place. It was lovely to see her, as she is normally based in their other office. I think we just clicked from when we first met, same kind of age, kids the same age, and so on. She has daughters, too, so we swapped stories. She is just about to celebrate that first christmas without one of the kids, which we did a year or two ago. She seems naturally very outgoing, so I guess she’s generally very popular at the charity. With me, it is a bit more forced. I’ve probably become more outgoing since the stroke, just because I’ve met people with such diverse backgrounds, but it is still an effort. I guess it must be really useful for a charity to have somebody like this woman on board, just in terms of quickly establishing a rapport with clients.

She obviously spotted that I wasn’t doing much, and pitched the telephone befriending role to me. So I was finally able to get involved, having been quite passive up until then. (When I originally volunteered, I had something within walking distance in mind, but the role requires travelling into their office in Salisbury.) But beyond that, I just wanted to help out, I had nothing specific in mind. The stroke work was the same.

I get the impression that a lot of my clients were met first by this woman, so she is familiar with back-stories, although doesn’t speak to them every week as I do. If I have any concerns, she is my first point of contact, so it helps that she has met them too. She often knows a bit more of the history than I do.

So, yes, all-in-all nice to meet some new colleagues, plus a refresher on some existing ones. Next stop, christmas!

Author: Stroke Survivor UK

Designed and developed IT systems for banks, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing from home, and have since released a couple of apps. I split my time between this and voluntary work. I am married, with a grown-up, left-home child.

One thought on “Christmas Gathering”

  1. Reblogged this on Stroke Survivor and commented:

    Yay, it is Friday once again, which can only mean one thing – Fandango’s Friday Flashback. Fandango uses these opportunities to reblog one of his posts from this day in a previous year, just to let his current readers see what he was up to back then. I feel like I am walking along a path of recovery, so the idea is useful for me too because it indicates how far I’ve come.

    I couldn’t find a compelling entry to repost today, so I just thought I’d share a post that I wrote a year ago about some of the charity work I do.

    Early on after the stroke, I realised that one of my goals had to be to get myself busy once again. I started volunteering for the Stroke Association, then a few months afterwards, I decided I could take on a little more, for Age UK. My originalthought was that there might be some clients in my village, within walking distance of home, who I could help, but nothing ever materialised. I helped out at a couple of one-off activities, but largely remained dormant. It was not until the summer of 2018 that somebody had the bright idea of asking me to become a telephone befriender. It meant getting the bus into their office in Salisbury to make the calls, but by that time, I was mobile enough to commit to making the journey each week.

    And so I became a telephone befriender. I have a list of around ten clients, and each week I give each of them a call, one by one. That’s it. The subject matter is absolutely anything, usually centering just on what we’ve been up to the last week.

    At Age UK’s office, I usually see a couple of other volunteers, just really to say Hi. There are also anything up to four paid organisers. But I work in a back room, and close the door so as not to disturbe anyone. The upshot is that I hardly see other volunteers for any length of time. And, the faces I do see out front are the same each week.

    So when Age UK organise a mince pie and coffee at christmastime for their volunteers, it is a good opportunity to meet some of the others. It’s a shame I couldn’t make it this year, which was yesterday, but this is my experience from last year.

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