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Volunteer stories: Mary

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Mary: knitter, mum, volunteer

“I am a good listener and I enjoy helping others.”

Mary started her role as a Volunteer Befriender in September 2016. Working alongside staff, she supports residents to take part in a wide range of activities and events so they can live life the way they choose.

Mary says:

“I have two children, aged 21 and 19, and work in a secondary school in Nuneaton as a Teaching Assistant. I volunteer at my local church, helping in the Children’s Church on Sundays and serving refreshments. I also help out in the over 55s’ club. In my spare time I enjoy reading, knitting, doing crosswords and walking.

“I decided to volunteer for the Befriending position at St Catherine’s as I hope to give the residents there a happy time. When I started the befriending I was matched with one of residents.

"I visit about twice a month and chat, read a detective novel, play cards and take the lady out occasionally. She has come over to my church once to the over 55s’ Christmas party.

“My role is about adding value to what staff are already providing for the residents and bringing a new perspective to the community. I enjoy what I do and know that the lady enjoys having the company.

“Being a Volunteer Befriender creates a relationship with a service user just like those we have with our colleagues, friends, partners and children. So being respectful and sensitive to their needs and hopes is important. It’s important to listen and observe the person you are paired with.

“Reliability is also another factor in overcoming the challenges as it takes time to build rapport and have a meaningful friendship with someone. It doesn’t happen overnight. I am now getting more response from the lady – she responds well to me and enjoys the time we spend together. I have invited her to my church again, which is exciting. We both are looking forward to it. She doesn’t go out too much at the moment and I hope to take her out when the weather gets better.

“If you’re thinking of volunteering, I really would recommend it. It’s very rewarding to see a happy face.”

Could you be a volunteer?

If Mary has inspired you, find out more about becoming a volunteer: visit the volunteering page to see current opportunities and find out how to become a volunteer.

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