Last year, we launched a new telephone support service called Here For You. We connect stroke survivors and carers to trained volunteers. They offer support and help people to feel less isolated after a stroke.
Most of our volunteers, like Jim and Trish Dawson, understand what it's like to have to rebuild your life after stroke.
'Jim had a haemorrhagic stroke (bleed on the brain) in 2016,' says Trish. 'He spent six weeks in an induced coma and wasn't expected to survive. When he returned home, he was unable to walk unaided. But soon got going again with support from his physiotherapists and a lot of determination.'
Trish and Jim have been volunteering with their local communication and support groups since 2017. When the coronavirus pandemic struck, they were keen to carry on supporting stroke survivors however they could, so signed up to Here For You as well.
'The pandemic has left a lot of new survivors with little or no support,' says Jim. 'I thought this was a needed service for stroke survivors, so I signed up, did the training, and two weeks later I was allocated my first client.
'He was struggling with balance, mobility, headaches and tiredness, all of which were causing him a lot of distress. I'd had similar problems after my stroke. I explained how I'd overcome them, answered his questions and reassured him that his concerns were a normal result of stroke. Being able to talk to someone who had been in his situation seems to have helped him a lot.'
Trish also enjoys using her experience as a carer to help others. 'Being a Here For You volunteer keeps me busy and makes me feel like I'm making a difference during these unusual times,' says Trish. 'Jim and I find it very rewarding and the feedback from our beneficiaries is great.'
'The training is enjoyable and informative, and you can always talk to your manager if you need help. I found the first call the most difficult. However, as you get to know the person better, it becomes much easier.
'Here For You can reach a lot more people, especially those who are isolated. It's a great service for stroke survivors and their families as they are often cast adrift when they leave hospital. Having someone phoning once a week to chat about any problems they have and to help to answer questions can only be beneficial.'
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Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the spring 2021 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.