Alice explains her experiences as a volunteer Community Visitor in Colchester, Essex.
At the beginning of 2013 I was thinking of doing some voluntary work visiting people in a local care home, something which would be a new venture for me and seemed very worthwhile. There had been quite a bit in the news about people in care homes, and how many of them never had any visitors at all! But I was not sure how to go about it or where to start. Colchester Community Voluntary Services sprang to mind as a likely source of information, and after chasing around to find their office I discovered that it was shut for lunch. Undaunted, I noticed a poster in the window about the My Home Life Community Visitors (CV) project which caught my eye immediately. I made a note of whom to contact and sent an email with a tentative enquiry for more information.
I received a warm and welcoming reply from the My Home Life Essex Community Association (MHLECA) and heard about their exciting project in my area whereby volunteers act as Community Visitors and work in pairs to support a local care home.
The MHLECA project turned out to be just what I was looking for and more. It offers much more scope than having just one resident to visit. The CV volunteer is a regular visitor for the care home as a whole, including the residents, their families and visitors, and the staff as well. The project aims to build up relationships and communications throughout the home, and enhance the wellbeing and wishes of the residents and all.
Visiting and spending time with people who could benefit from a bit of social interaction and support was the sort of voluntary work I had been doing for quite a while, usually on a once a week basis either in the evening or for a half day. I find it stretching as well as rewarding, and really good to go out and be with many new and different people. Having a bit of a chat, sometimes a heart to heart, time spent with others is very engaging, and more often than not you find that you gain far more than you give.
Once I had met most of the people involved with the project and completed the necessary paperwork, in June I started as a CV in a Colchester care home, where Lisa, a fellow volunteer, had already been a CV for about three months. People soon find that having CVs around really does make a welcome difference. It only takes about half a day a week and I’m very pleased to be part of the project.