Meet the Volunteers: Jazmin

If you were at our Launch Event on 15th July you may have met one of our newest volunteers, Jazmin, handing out much appreciated Pimm’s to the walkers, cyclists and kayakers as they arrived at the event. She’s going to be helping us out with fundraising and other things, alongside her full time job.  At just 26, Jazmin is a real spring chicken in our volunteer team, so when I met her I was really interested to find out what appealed to her about volunteering with us.  When she told me her story, I asked her to write it up so that we could share it with others who might have had similar experiences – she’s certainly not the first volunteer we’ve met who has wished they’d known about us sooner!!

jazmin smith

It all started on a double decker bus. As I sat on one of the familiar striped chairs I noticed her. Dark tired skin and long dark hair with silver highlights. It looked like it hadn’t seen a hair brush in a while but she did a brilliant job with her fingers. Every now and then a delicate plait would emerge.

As we made eye contact I said hello (I have always been a chatter box). We got talking. Sadly, I discovered she had had a hard life. She told me that she now lived alone in a meadow and that her children did not want anything to do with her. She told me she was scared and alone.

I felt for her right down to my soul.

She held my hand in hers. I still remember her papery thin hands, her nails dark from picking flowers in her meadow (or so she told me). She told me I was her angel.

At this point I wanted to do all I could for this woman. I wanted to change her life. In that split-second I envisioned re-homing her, talking with her family, mediating them back together and having the pleasure of watching her flourish back into the lady I had heard all about, through her memories.

Without a doubt in my mind I got my phone out and gave her my mobile number. I told her that I was always there to talk and I would help her in any way I could.

Cut to a week or so later. It’s 3am and I am in bed. My phone rings and I immediately answer. The person on the other end of the line is not making much sense and I don’t recognise their voice. I check the number and realise it is not a family member or friend and come to the conclusion that I am probably being prank called.

This happens nightly for the following week. The same soul crushing incoherent screams echoing down the phone. At the mention of her meadow it clicked. This was the lonely lady from the bus.

I asked her to meet me but she wasn’t able to listen to me long enough to hold a proper conversation. After about a week or so I think she grew frustrated with me. I couldn’t understand her screams and I had no idea what to do to help her. I hated that all I could do was add to her obvious pain and frustration.

Now throw yourself spinning, cartwheeling into the future. 10 years into the future to be exact.

I’m sat with the Chloe, the Manager of Volunteering in Health. We have met to discuss how I could help with their charity. Chloe asked why I wanted to volunteer: was it to learn new skills, to meet like-minded people or had I been affected by something myself?

I told her the truth. It was for all of the above but mainly because I like to help others. For some reason, the lady on the bus came to my mind. I told Chloe about her. As I told her about how awful it felt not to be able to help, Chloe sympathetically nodded her head and said:

“Imagine if you had known about us, you could have given her our details. We would have been able to connect her to our network of staff and volunteers that would have been able to offer her the support she so desperately needed. It wouldn’t all have been on your shoulders.”

My mind was blown. Something so simple could have changed everything for this lady. This was when it hit me. I had to help this charity. Chloe and I discussed some of the many people they have managed to help and I felt a warmth surge through me.

I am now volunteering with the wonderful team at ‘Volunteering in Health’ to help them continue to make such a massive difference to people lives.

If you know someone that could benefit from our services, or if you would like to find out more about volunteering, please contact a member of the team on 01626 771695.

 

Advertisements

How do we help people? One example of how our many services can work together to support one person.

They say that the one thing you can always rely on is change. When someone’s health changes, the repercussions can be far-reaching; even the most capable person suddenly finds themselves in the humbling position of being the one asking for help, rather than offering it – perhaps for the first time in their adult life.

One such person, John Vaughan, is a well-known member of the local community, through his involvement with many local charities. At the age of 85, he is still going strong as the Vice Chair for Devon Senior Voice.  He  was the Chairperson for the local Breathe Easy group, part of the British Lung Foundation, for 8 years; a charity he became involved with after his wife was diagnosed with COPD.

norma and john
John with his wife, Norma

 

Throughout his life, John has been a keen horse rider (and still is), so when he went to the doctor in October 2016 with pain in his lower back, he didn’t think much of it – assuming it was related to his riding. But the next thing he knew, he’d been told he had cancer and needed to have a kidney removed.  After such an active life, this was a huge shock, and sent John into depression.

Whilst recovering in Dawlish Hospital, John met our Hospital Link Workers, who supported him and referred him to our Wellbeing Co-ordinators for ongoing support when he came home.  It was only when he came home from hospital that John really understood how poorly he was – but his main priority was making sure his much loved dog, Wesley, was looked after!  Volunteering in Health’s Wellbeing Co-ordinator, Jill Breyley, came to visit and support him.  Though John has many friends and a supportive family, he found Jill’s support invaluable: she helped him to sort through his paperwork, arranged for rails to be put up in the garden to make it easier for him to get out, and organised a cleaner from our Home Help Service to help out at home and walk the dog – a task John’s neighbour has now gladly taken on.

norma john jill wesley
Norma, John, Jill and Wesley

 

John told us, “I’m usually a cheerful, buoyant person, and used to being a leader, but after this happened I was suddenly flat on my back. I didn’t know how to handle it.  I was prepared for the physical effects, but not the psychological effects.  There were so many people coming in and out and I didn’t know who they were or why they were there.  Jill helped me to make sense of it all.  She was a terrific help.”

John’s wife, Norma, said, “We were devastated when we found out about the cancer. It was such a shock when he had always been so fit and healthy.  He was so lucky to get over it, but it was so worrying.  He was so different – he wouldn’t eat and lost a lot of weight.”

Our Wellbeing Co-ordinator Jill Breyley said, “John was my very first client when I started in this role. It is incredible to see the difference in him now compared to just four months ago and fantastic to see how well the new Wellbeing Co-ordinator role is working for real people.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from our support, please contact us.

Photoshoot!

Recently one of our volunteers, Rachel Palmer, kindly took professional portraits of the team so that we could proudly update the Meet The Team section of our website, as well as the notice board in the office.  Now we can walk past it without cringing at the terrible taken-on-a-phone portraits that used to be in their place!  We hope you’ll agree that the photos make us look much more professional.

We had a lovely day down on the beach for the photos, it was nice just to get out of the office and all spend a bit of time together – we don’t do enough of that here!

photoshoot

Meet the team: Bob

bobBob

Chief officer at Totnes Caring and Volunteering in Health

Career to date- what was your route into community transport?

“I joined Totnes caring in June 2010 and also become Chief Officer of Volunteering in Health January 2016; both organisations provide volunteer car schemes taking the elderly and vulnerable to various health and wellbeing appointments.”

 

What gives you the most job satisfaction in community transport?

“Being able to make a real difference in helping people attend much needed appointments and the positive response it gives to both the volunteer driver and the person whom they are taking in fully appreciating the value of this support.”

 

What frustrates you most about working in the community transport sector?

“Short time scales when arranging appointments as it does take a lot of work to find a volunteer driver.”

 

Do you have any Special work-related talents?

“I come from a banking background and understand the need for sustainability for both charities.”

 

Any words of wisdom that you live or work by?

“Treat others as you would like to be treated and if you can help someone then help them!”

 

What hobbies or interests do you enjoy outside of work?

“Rugby! Used to play for Totnes back in the day and support them as well as England, Chiefs and Cornwall and any other game I can get to watch.”

 

 

 

Meet the Team: Gill

Gill retired from her role as a Community Nurse in 2014, but found that she missed supporting people in the community.  Not long after retiring, she joined VIH as a volunteer, but within weeks we had snapped her up to be our Memory Loss Support Worker.

gill

 

 

I have worked for VIH since March 2015 as Memory Support Worker. In my role I provide support, information and signposting to clients living with a memory problem, and their carers. I help them remain well and involved in the community for as long as possible, which then reduces the feeling of loneliness and isolation that a memory problem can bring.

In 2016 I became the co-ordinator for the Teignmouth and Dawlish Memory cafes. These are run monthly and are social, relaxed sessions where clients and their carers can get together for a cup of tea or coffee and join in any activity that we have planned.

Recently I helped to launch ‘Music 4 Memories’, which involves group singing, playing of instruments and quizzes.

It’s good to see people out, joining in and having fun.

Meet the Team: Jackie

jackie-milan-1Our Carer Support Worker, Jackie, is one of our longest standing staff members, having been with VIH since 2013.  Jackie has lots of experience working with all kinds of carers, and is especially skilled when it comes to shifting raffle tickets!!  She is a keen crafter and festival goer.  This afternoon she is taking a group of carers out for a Christmas lunch at Trade Winds in Teignmouth, somewhere that is well known for giving everyone a lovely warm welcome!

My specific role at ViH is to support Carers with their caring by visiting them in their homes on a one-to-one basis to offer relevant information.  I run a Carers meeting on the last Wednesday of the month at Bitton House from 2pm to 4pm, cared for and former Carers are also welcome.  We have a variety of speakers and activities, tea and home-made cakes are served half way through the meeting.

Following on from a very successful lunch during Carers Week earlier in the year, I now organise a monthly lunch at Trade Winds.  This has proved to be very popular with Carers, the person they care for and also former Carers. Transport is provided if necessary by ViH’s Team of voluntary drivers.

13731694_1165849563487971_3923606570142859082_n

For any Carers who are interested in trying different types of crafts, a weekly group is held at Teignmouth Arts Action Group (TAAG). They have produced a variety of work including a project for the TRAIL during the summer (pictured).  They also made some of the poppies which were displayed on the anchor outside Teignmouth Museum.  

Meet the Team: Ken

Ken has been the Chair of VIH Trustees for 18 months. He also helps with transport and trips.  Like all of our Trustees, Ken is a volunteer.  They meet regularly to ensure that VIH is financially sound and succeeding in meeting the set aims to reach out to and help older and vulnerable local people when they need it most.

Ken1

Ken says, “I retired from a career in social housing two years ago and moved here to beautiful Devon with my wife Sheila. As well as VIH, I volunteer at Shaldon Zoo, Citizens Advice, Shaldon Tourist Cabin and Shaldon Regatta (in the summer) and the floodgate team in the winter.  I also do a weekly show on Towersound, the Hosptial Radio service at Newton Abbot Hospital.  I was a DJ in my younger days so being back on the radio is great fun for me…and possibly for the listeners?!

I love being involved because we are a strong and enthusiastic team comprising clients, volunteers and paid staff with a common aim to provide a great service.”