Age Cymru Gwynedd a Môn’s Cadwyn Môn befriending service in Anglesey is a lifeline for older people who often experience “terrible” feelings of isolation and loneliness. Here some older people from the area and their volunteers share their experiences.
Eighty two year old Minnie Brimecombe’s was the main carer for her sister for over 30 years. When she died of cancer Minnie’s life was in tatters.
She said: “I was main carer for my sister because she had rheumatoid arthritis. When she died four years ago my world dropped apart – I was just lost. I didn’t know what hit me because my life was so full looking after her.
So I got touch with Age Cymru Gwynedd a Môn and they said they would get someone to come to me. Darling lady Lesley came and she has been an absolute life saver. If I hadn’t done something at that time I would have been a wreck. Lesley offered to take me out once a week for ten weeks and after my time with her finished she said she was going to keep coming to me. She usually takes me out shopping – we get on so well. Without Lesley I would be in heaven. It’s the only thing now I’ve got to look forward to – bless her heart. I hate to think what wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t come along.
“It makes my life worthwhile”
Lesley Haggis, who is a volunteer for Cadwyn Môn, now counts Minnie as one of her closest friends.
Lesley said: “I wanted to make a difference to her life. She was so depressed and had a recent bereavement. We hit it off straight away. Because she was so isolated and alone I wanted to keep going back and make a positive difference. Now I don’t put time limit on my visits – it’s however long it takes because it’s just like meeting up with a friend now.
“When I was told about Cadwyn Môn I was really excited. It’s the best voluntary work I’ve ever done. I absolutely love it and it also gives back to me – it makes my life worthwhile. Cadwyn Môn makes us feel cherished, looked after, warm and valued.”
“I’m a different person now”
Former Post Office engineer John Jenkins, 87, felt alone and miserable when his wife died nearly three years ago. That was until Michael came along:
“I was isolated. The feeling was terrible and I had panic attacks as well. I’m a different person now – I’ve come out of my shell a bit. I’m limited with physical things but I’m strong mentally again. Meeting Mike made a 100 per cent difference. I can go anywhere now but before I used to hang back.”
Volunteer Michael Bourhill struck up a close friendship with John after discovering that they shared similar interests.
Michael said: “When I first met John he was affable and he had the social skills to get on with people so we stuck it off quite quickly. We went to a lot of places together. We both like things like railways, music and historic museums. He had obviously had an interesting life and I felt this chap could have another interesting life. Within a few weeks he had improved remarkably. “
Age Cymru Gwynedd a Môn’s Cadwyn Môn befriending service, which received funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, provides friendship and companionship for people over the age of 50 living on Anglesey. It also supports older people to visit and participate in activities and centres in their local community.