Volunteers wanted for British Red Cross home support service
A British Red Cross service that supports people when they come out of hospital is seeking volunteers.
The Support at Home Service is based at West Suffolk and Ipswich Hospitals.
Mark Bradley, who manages the services, said: “If you are a friendly, compassionate person with some time to spare to help people in your local community, we would love to hear from you.
"We provide full training for volunteers and ongoing support, so you’ve always got someone to call if you’re unsure.
“Our volunteers are fantastic people. Every day they help vulnerable people cope with the difficulties of returning home from hospital, and help them get some independence back.”
Ken Baker, 92, from Clopton, near Ipswich, is among those grateful for the service.
For several years, Ken had been caring at home for Ann, his wife of more than 60 years, who had dementia. But in January, Ken was in a car accident, and forced to spend several months in hospital. Injuries to his neck and ankle meant his mobility was affected.
To make matters worse, Ann died while he was in hospital so Ken faced returning to an empty home without her.
Ken explained: “When I came home, I felt so low, I wouldn’t have cared if I lived or died. I couldn’t see the point.
“But that was when I met this bright chap, Terry.”
Terry Demand, 65, is a volunteer with the British Red Cross support at home service, supporting those who may need extra support making the adjustment back to home life after recovering.
The Red Cross volunteer visits for up to six weeks and offers companionship, advice and practical help, depending on needs.
“Terry helped me cope with losing Ann,” says Ken. “I felt I could talk to him about how I was feeling, because Terry was Terry.
"He has a way with him that makes you feel wanted. Because he was outside the family, it was easier for me to be open with him.
“He made life seem worth living again.”
During his visits over a period of six weeks, Terry helped Ken out with practical tasks around the home, as well as offering companionship and conversation.
Terry, who took up volunteering after he retired from his job as district manager for HMRC, says that he got quite 'emotionally attached' to Ken during the six weeks he spent visiting him.
Terry said: “He is such a kind, welcoming and grateful man. Although Ken had support from family and the local church community, he needed some emotional support as he adjusted to life without his wife, as well as help with cleaning because of his loss of mobility.
“Our job with service users is to leave them in a much better place than when we started. If they need long-term support after that, we can make sure they are in touch with other services.”
A recruitment day will be held at Bury St Edmunds Library on August 9 from 11am to 3pm, when prospective volunteers can meet the Red Cross team and learn more about volunteering roles.
For more information contact Ben Weatherburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07718 242801.
You can also register your interest at www.redcross.org.uk/supportvolunteer