Dilwyn, 88, lives alone in a semi-detached house in one of the outlying villages of Wrexham. He began losing his eyesight 19 years ago and is now completely blind.
Realising he was becoming cut off from his community, Dilwyn contacted Social Services for help for his loneliness. He says, “The biggest challenge is being on my own for 7 and half hours a day. That’s over 40 hours a week by myself. Isolation is the hardest thing. I asked my local social services for help and they told me about Deafblind UK.”
Initially, a phone conversation with a staff member on the Deafblind UK Information & Advice Line started the ball rolling. Dilwyn recalls “When I rang the helpline, a very nice lady answered. We discussed my situation and she said she’d get my local Engagement Officer to get in touch with me. Soon after, Dewi came round to see me and everything went from there.
Following his visit, Dewi arranged for Dilwyn to be visited once a week by one of our volunteer befrienders, Gaby, so that Dilwyn would know that a friendly neighbour would be popping in to brighten his day and to help him connect better with his community.
Gaby was a new recruit as a volunteer. She says, “I always like helping people and I saw the advert come up and thought it was something I really wanted to do. I thought I could make a difference to someone’s life. I enjoy giving back to people. I may be in their situation one day, needing help, so I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Dilwyn and Gaby immediately felt comfortable together and began enjoying one another’s company. Gaby continues, “I visit Dilwyn every Wednesday for 2-3 hours at a time. We have a coffee together, a little bit of cake and a chat about things. Dilwyn tells me about his life and I talk about what I’ve been up to. It’s nice. We have become good friends, and we know a lot about each other now.”
Gaby has also helped Dilwyn to continue enjoying some of his hobbies, particularly his love of the natural world. He says, “I am a keen landscaper as it was my work for a lot of my life. I still enjoy sitting in the garden in the good weather and I also enjoy feeding foreign and British birds. Gaby sometimes helps me in the garden. I try to give her some tips, but she knows so much already!”
Dilwyn has also been welcomed to the Wrexham Deafblind UK Social Group. One of the group’s volunteers picks him up and takes him home again afterwards. Dilwyn has enjoyed making a new group of friends and his self-confidence has been seen to improve enormously. In fact, at a recent meeting, he even agreed to give a talk about his life and career in the landscape business, which was greatly enjoyed by the other members and gave Dilwyn immense satisfaction. He’s also enjoyed a couple of coach trips, which have given him interesting things to think about and the opportunity to get out and about.
Dilwyn says, “All the volunteers at Deafblind UK are superb. I would be lost without them! I have Gaby coming to visit me, Veronica giving me a lift to the Social Group and Connie and Iris among others who help guide me during the meetings or trips out we have. Every meeting, before I even walk through the door at the group, Connie shouts “Hi Dilwyn!”, and it’s absolutely lovely!”