Jackie, a retired Chartered Physiotherapist from London, is a volunteer home befriender for Deafblind UK.
“I’m home befriender to two gentlemen; Peter and John. This means I visit them both in their own homes every other week. We have a cup of tea and chat together – we get on very well! Peter likes to go for a walk which we do on most of my visits. We either just walk around the block to get some shopping or, if the weather’s nice, we might go further afield. The local park has a herb garden which provides different smells and tastes to try. He is also keen to learn ‘deafblind manual’ so I’m helping him to do this, I have learnt something new too. Peter always makes sure I enjoy my visits too which makes it even more rewarding.
“John is less mobile so we spend more time indoors. I’ve helped him to write his Christmas cards and fill in a new address book (that I gave him at Christmas). Sometimes we both tidy up his papers so he can find things more easily, and of course I make lots of tea!” She said.
Since retiring, Jackie spends her time gardening, visiting museums and galleries and catching up with friends. She volunteers for Deafblind UK for 2.5 hours each week and thoroughly enjoys it. “I just love getting to know new people and seeing their faces when I turn up! I just wish I lived closer to them so I could pop in more regularly. I always look forward to my next befriending sessions.” Jackie said.
Jackie was initially drawn to volunteering for Deafblind UK from a personal experience: “My Mum was quite deaf and had very restricted vision in later years so I know how limiting it was for her. She did use her phone a lot but felt she had little or no purpose. With this in mind, when I visited the local Volunteer Agency and saw the advert for Deafblind UK, it really stood out.” She said.
“I have been a home befriender for nearly a year now and it’s been excellent – the whole recruitment process was smooth and Deafblind UK’s Senior Community Engagement Officer, Sue, has been most supportive. She gives me positive feedback about my visits and is available to answer any questions or concerns I have. The most important thing has been the feedback about the visits – I know she has phoned Peter and John to check that everything is going well. It makes a big difference when you know you are being appreciated by the charity as well as the people you befriend.
“I recently went along to the Deafblind UK London volunteers meeting which was really enjoyable. It was great to meet other volunteers and share our experiences. My aim for the evening was to talk to someone about the practicalities of deafblind manual as I didn’t find anything on line. I was able to speak with Deafblind UK staff members Sue, Tania and Sally who answered my questions.”
“I will be moving out of London in the next couple of years, so I really hope to find a similar role in Dorset.”