For many people volunteering means working in an organised way for a charity, but as The National Lottery Community Fund’s Wales director John Rose says, just giving up a couple of hours of week to help a neighbour can make a big difference to their quality of life.
For a number of years I took a small part of my Friday evenings to pick up and take an elderly former neighbour to the pub for a drink and a meal.
“Ace” was one of the first people I met when I moved to my village some 20 years ago. He was larger than life (literally) and one of life’s colourful characters. He was a fantastic neighbour, but became increasingly infirm and becoming increasingly immobile. A nasty bout of pneumonia nearly killed him, and his health was made worse by the onset of diabetes. From that point forward, he slowed down, struggling to even cross the road.
Ace had always had a routine of going out for a meal and a few pints on a Friday night, but as his mobility failed he couldn’t get the bus and found taxis too expensive. So the solution was simple. Once a week I’d turn up at 7pm help him into the car, take him to a pub where he knew people, sit him down with a pint and leave him to enjoy the evening recounting his stories with people he had known for years. He was always thankful for this simple bit of help, which kept him in touch with his friends and the outside world.
So what did I get from this? Well apart from the fact that when he was well Ace used to do a bit of gardening for us (which he loved), it’s a real leveller when you think life is rubbish, to see the situation others are in. It makes you thankful for your health.
I also did feel good, as I knew that that small act of a lift once a week, made a real difference to his quality of life.
As 21 January – labelled the most depressing day of the year – hits, The National Lottery Community Fund is calling on people across the UK to give Blue Monday a rosy glow by volunteering their time to help others. Visit our website to find out more.