My parents were in their 40s when I was born, so I think they had an older mentality. A lot of older people lived on the street where I grew up and I remember always getting on well with them. The thought of them being alone is too much to bear.
This motivated me to volunteer for Independent Age. In my three years with the charity, I have visited three older people as a volunteer visitor. Each experience has been starkly different. What connected them all was their desire to talk and my desire to help them and make them feel there was someone who cared about what they had to say. One was a great singer so I would also listen to her sing. A wonderful experience.
When my dad died four years ago, I had to deal with my mum’s grief as well as my own. It was a really difficult time, but I seem to have this inherent ability to make a connection with older people and this did help.
Older people have truly lived a life and I have found they are often more than happy to recount what they have done in their time. I have an endless desire to listen and to learn about their experiences.
I think, in our society, a lot of older people are shoved to the sidelines. I don’t think this is fair. We can all learn a lot from each other and we can all gain a great deal of enjoyment from each other’s company.
I visit my current friend once a week. We have a good chat and a cup of tea. We have good conversations about what she’s been up to, often talking about the documentaries she’s watched. I sometimes tell her about my work in a camera shop in Bodmin. I have just been accepted on to a photography MA course at Falmouth University and I imagine I’ll tell her about that, too.
I’m 32 and I have always been an advocate for volunteer work. It gives you such a feeling of satisfaction. I’d say to anyone, if you volunteer it will be more than worth it. The people you get to meet will be absolutely lovely; the training is easy and straightforward; and the support is amazing. There’s no pressure on you and volunteer work can be very flexible. Volunteering adds something to your life that wouldn’t be there otherwise – and something to someone else’s life too.