Talking to the lady I visit for Independent Age makes me see the world in a different way. Joan often tells me what happened years ago in the area where we both live. What’s amazing is that every time I go for a walk, I find myself viewing the area differently, imagining what it was like in the past.

It’s fascinating to hear about how Joan spent time when she was a child and the things she went through. These were times of real hardship. She’s made me realise that there will be a time when no one will be alive who had those experiences. We’ll be at that stage soon with the Second World War, as more and more veterans die.

Being a volunteer brings all of this to the foreground. It reminds me how important it is to talk to today’s children about how much we have now compared with the austerity of the past. It’s so easy for us all to take comforts for granted.

Visiting for Independent Age has also shown me how important it is for older people to live independently for as long as possible. This makes me think about my mum in ten or 15 years’ time and about what she will need and what I will do for her.

I have a very busy life but Joan is so grateful for the time I’m spending with her. This makes me feel valued, to know I can cheer her up and support her.

I started volunteering eight years ago. I took redundancy from my job in the banking industry and knew I wanted to take a year out from work and decided to offer my services as a volunteer, both for the elderly and the younger generation as well.

For the older sector, I did a Google search and Independent Age was one of the options that came up. I started visiting a lady who lives near me, and also a local children’s hospice.

I love offering my support and friendship to those who need it and feel so grateful that I can make a difference to people’s lives. On top of this, I was delighted to receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Service for the volunteering I do at the hospice.

When I started volunteering for Independent Age I started visiting a lady and became very close to her. I was seeing her until she died at 99, two weeks before her 100th birthday. Her death had a profound effect on me. I don’t have any grandparents who are alive and this was like losing my grandma but I feel so pleased for the time I spent with her. Valuable moments that stay with me still.

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