Volunteers make an impact on society

AT this time of economic hardship and cuts and talk of the “Big Society” may I highlight the benefits to individuals and the community of volunteering – in particular the Alzheimer’s befriending service.

Everyone enjoys a friendly chat and those suffering from dementia are no different. I have had a wonderful experience over the past few years of visiting these ‘friends’ in their own home for an hour or two each week.

I have met people with similar interests and enjoyed many conversations about gardening, nature, art, travel, films, sport, camping, family and pets. Sometimes I provide prompts e.g., books, photographs and of course the same stories do sometimes recur but there can also be a sense of fun.

Those suffering from dementia are as individual as the rest of us and we all have our up and down days.

It is a two-way process and although I know that sometimes I am not remembered from one visit to the next it is very satisfying to be greeted with obvious pleasure when I arrive.

Carers can also be very grateful for the added support from knowing that someone comes regularly to spend time with their loved one.

As a befriender I am also well supported and managed by the local Alzheimer Society.

I have been matched with friends of similar interests and training is provided with opportunities to meet other befrienders.

There is always someone available to talk through any concerns that may arise.

If you have been inspired by this letter and enjoy going out and meeting people do consider becoming a befriender for what you will receive as well as give. Everyone has something to offer.

The befriending service manager can be contacted on 07889 604615 or via email at caroline.brewer@alzheimers.org.uk.

CORINNA IRVINE

St Helens Road