Alaire had a stroke in November 2017. She had been a Practice Manager in a busy GP practice, and an NVQ trainer and assessor at the time: 'I came home from work and I didn't feel myself. I was taken to hospital, and scans revealed that I was having a stroke. In just a few days, I had lost the use of my left side, and I remained in the hospital for the next five weeks.'
Alaire was well supported by her local team in her recovery, but the coronavirus pandemic meant that she was unable to access her local stroke group. However, she heard about our new volunteer telephone support service, Here For You, and was drawn to the opportunity.
'I thought I had some skills which could be put to good use as a volunteer. And because I was applying for the Lived Experience Telephone Support role, my own experience of stroke would be helpful for anyone who had recently had a stroke. Sometimes, sharing my experience of stroke is helpful because it lets them know that they are not the only person feeling like that. At other times, it is just about giving someone a little bit of encouragement or listening to them.
'My volunteering also helps me to focus on something, other than myself. I thought the Here For You role would give me some purpose and make me feel useful, and it certainly did! It gives me something to look forward to each week.'
'For anyone thinking about volunteering – just give it a go! I get as much out of the calls as the person I am supporting does. You get excellent training that helps you to feel more confident when making your calls. I really wish this initiative had been available after I had my stroke. I suffered from depression - a hidden effect of stroke – and it would have been lovely to have had a friendly voice to talk to.'