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Could you be-a-friend, like Mary?

Mary is a volunteer with Age Concern Merstham Redhill and Reigate and has been involved with the charity for more than 24 years. Mary welcomed us to her home to recount her many memories of volunteering including how the service has evolved since 1994.

Mary says she loves volunteering because it keeps it keeps her active and social.

She keeps fit most days by taking her beloved rescue dogs (Ginnie and Mia) out for long walks in the countryside near to where she lives. Mia, all fluffy, soft and white (pictured with Mary) is a therapy dog and in addition to Mary’s volunteer role with Age Concern, she also visits care homes locally so Mia can help residents to feel better.

The commitment Mary makes each week at Age Concern is incredible and makes such a difference to so many people both at the centre and in the community - just a few simple hours of her time. Mary enjoys two volunteer roles: every Wednesday she arrives to help Frank, our mini-bus driver with afternoon transport. Mary acts as an escort and helps members on and off the mini-bus. Mary says: “The bus is great fun because you really get to know the members and it feels great to see how happy people are after a day with friends at the Merstham Centre”.

As well as helping at the centre, we also help many people in the community who still live independently in their own home.

Mary told us:

“I’ve been visiting Irene for two years now and I really enjoy our friendship. Irene lives on her own in Redhill. She was born in 1919 just two months following the conclusion of the Great War, so I am always learning something new about the past. Next year, she’ll be 100.

Irene really looks forward to seeing me each week and I’m sure if I didn’t visit, she would be very disappointed.”

The toughest part of living a long life is that people nearest and dearest often pass before you. Irene came from a small family and had a good circle of friends, including her only daughter, Sandra. Sadly Sandra died of cancer some 8 years ago.

Irene is a member of Holy Trinity Church in Redhill and regularly receives help from them as well.

Mary tells us:

“Irene loves to knit and when I first met her, she was knitting mice for charity. Unfortunately, she now finds this too difficult as her eye sight is failing. Over the next few weeks, I will help Irene to write her Christmas cards”.

#timetotalk #befriending
Irene with one of her knitted 'Mickies'

Loneliness and social isolation in later life is an incredible concern.

· Over half of all people aged 75 and older live alone

· One in three older people are affected by loneliness

· Two fifths of older people say the television is their main company

· A shocking 370,000 people aged 75 and older spend ‘zero’ hours with other people on a typical day

It’s clear to see just how much Mary enjoys her time with Irene each week and it’s great to know that both Irene and Mary both benefit from their weekly catch up.

Do you think you could become a befriender like Mary? Perhaps if you have a couple of hours each week to spare, you could make a real difference to the life of an older person in our community.

Befriending is all about being there for an older person, a friendly face who listens and is supportive, providing lasting companionship.

To find out more, please call Alison Dadswell on 01737 645 636.

Or, if you cannot give your time, please consider a regular donation to help us recruit and train more volunteers as befrienders. A year of giving just £5 per month will pay for training for a volunteer befriender.


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