After working in the printing industry for over forty years, Allan had a serious arm injury. He went through a series of operations, and he is still recovering from the nerve damage that he has been left with.
With time on his hands, Allan became involved in several walking groups, and also increased his involvement in the voluntary Community Patrol. He knew he could help more people though, so he researched local organisations and came across Age Concern Wellington Region. After the initial paperwork and training, he was matched with a lonely senior. Each week, Allan spent time with his ‘client’, but each week he was more convinced that his client didn’t actually want the help. Allan felt like he had let-down his ‘client’. Visitor Service Coordinator Kirsten reassured him that it was clear the client didn’t want the help and that it wasn’t Allan’s fault.
Some people might have stopped trying to help at this point, but thankfully Allan persisted. Kirsten quickly found another client who needed help. Allan knew he needed to keep busy and have a sense of purpose, and volunteering was one of the best ways to do this.
This new match was much smoother. Now Allan not only visits someone each week, he also volunteers with the Companion Walking Service – taking an older man walking each week.
“Wednesdays is my Age Concern day”, Allan says. “It takes a good couple of hours to go for a walk with Frank* – by the time we get ready, walk for over an hour together, and I take him back to his house.” Frank, who is in his 80s, has some memory loss. When Allan arrives, Frank is always pleased and even seems more alert by the time Allan brings him home.
In the afternoon, he visits another older gentleman who is in a rest home. Allan enjoys volunteering with Age Concern. He gets satisfaction from knowing the two people he visits each week truly appreciate his help. A bond has formed with each, and he learns many things from them. They have some similar interests, but they also speak about anything that might be on their minds.
He finds it therapeutic to think about what one has to do to help somebody else. He is humbled when he looks at the people he tries to help, and realises his own issues aren’t that bad after all.
Allan feels that the boost each client gets from connecting with their visitor is making a huge difference in their lives – even significantly contributing to keeping them in their homes rather than having to be moved into care. Social connection helps both with physical and mental wellbeing, and the impact this makes in people’s lives shouldn’t be underestimated.
But Allan’s service to Age Concern doesn’t stop there! Once a month, he also helps run Age Concern’s monthly pop-up hub for seniors at the Linden Community Centre. “It makes Kirsten’s job a little easier, and I get the satisfaction of knowing I’m helping out doing something”, Allan says.
Thank you Allan for all you do to help seniors thrive in the Wellington Region!
*some names have been changed to protect privacy