I knew that when I retired, I would need some regular fixtures in my life, and I initially volunteered for the National Trust – which I still do.
It was at a Christmas ‘do’ for the Trust volunteers that I met Janice, a fellow NT volunteer, who ‘recruited’ me to volunteer for the Stroke Association. It wasn’t such a hard sell really – my own father was a stroke survivor and, living so far away, I was unable to visit as often as I’d like and I didn’t feel I was able to do enough for him. So it seemed like an opportunity to address that slightly guilty niggle in the back of my mind. And, since I was no longer working, I had plenty of time to give.
I have received lots of training, which I really appreciate, and I have had lots of volunteering opportunities:
- I can take people’s blood pressure at KYBP events
- I am a trained first aider
- I have done my share of ‘shaking buckets’, although I didn’t really think it was my thing but it is very rewarding to see how generous people can be
- I have helped at sponsored events like the annual Resolution Run.
However, my favourite volunteering activity with our charity is that I regularly attend a weekly meeting of stroke survivors who have, over the months, become my friends.
The members vary in how much their stroke has affected them – some are active enough to do skydives for fundraising, some are volunteers themselves and others are less able. Every Wednesday morning, I go along and help where I can – passing round the tea and cakes, running quizzes, playing Boccia and skittles. We have been on museum visits, done crafts and card making, and been out for group lunches. Last year, as part of Paint May Purple, we volunteers had our faces painted – and after the meeting, I had to go and collect my sister from the airport looking like a tiger!
Most recently, I helped some of the members fill in a Stroke Association questionnaire, and we had an extremely interesting speaker who told us all about woodturning. Doesn’t sound that interesting to you? Well, you had to be there. I have even given a presentation myself about my volunteering with the National Trust – the social secretary must’ve really been scraping the barrel that day.
I have also been visiting some stroke survivors on behalf of the Stroke Association in the acute stroke ward in the local hospital. It has been so helpful to have that background and training, as I am now visiting a personal friend who recently had a stroke and who is currently in that ward. I know how to help and what the likely progress will be, and I am much less intimidated by visiting than I’m sure I would’ve been without my involvement with our charity.
All in all, I am greatly enjoying being able to give something, do something useful and I am grateful that the Stroke Association has given me all of these opportunities.