A day in the life of Teresa Wright, a British Red Cross volunteer
It’s a Thursday morning and, much like most Thursday mornings, I put on my Red Cross workwear and prepare myself for the day’s various volunteering assignments.
I am a volunteer for the First Call service of the Red Cross and also do some work for the Red Cross Tea Bar at Grantham and District Hospital. I was honoured and surprised earlier in the year to be awarded the Diamond Champion Jubilee Award for my volunteering.
Today I am visiting three clients in the Grantham area and so my day starts early. My first visit is to a new client Margaret that I haven’t met before and so I am meeting them with one of the First Call Project workers Tommy Morrisroe.
Tommy has already given me some background information and so I know that Margaret is just out of hospital following a hip replacement. She lives alone and like many in a rural area such as Grantham has no close neighbours who she can easily call on.
Loneliness is a common factor amongst many of the people that I meet and a friendly face can sometimes work wonders. I agree to help her by providing some companionship and also helping her with her shopping. I will do this for up to 12 weeks by which time she should be fully recovered.
The visit lasts for just over an hour although there is no stipulated time set down by the Red Cross and I agree to see her again next week.
The Red Cross helps thousands of people following a short stay in hospital and prevents unnecessary hospital admissions by providing extra support and care at home. The support offered by volunteers can smooth the process of settling back into a normal routine and enable people to regain their confidence and independence. As the First Call title indicates, it is a first stage support intended to bridge the gap between the initial crisis stage and the provision of a long term support solution that may involve a number of agencies and often takes some time to put in place.
Having said goodbye to Margaret (and Tommy), I then go to see David who is receiving a service called therapeutic care which helps individuals in stressful situations and times of personal crisis by promoting a sense of well-being and relaxation through gentle massage.
The therapy of hand and arm, neck and shoulder massage, given through clothing, can also assist in pain and stress relief and help to promote a feeling of well being.
Of course, nothing is undertaken in isolation and David and I have time for a cup of tea and a chat as well as providing the massage therapy and I still have time for my afternoon appointment with Brenda and her husband.
Brenda has just been diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer and is receiving palliative support from her Macmillan Cancer Support nurse.
The Red Cross has recently joined together with local Macmillan Nurses to run a one-year pilot programme to support cancer patients. This Macmillan support pilot provides all the support of the First Call service but, in addition, can provide support to carers. In this case, I am allowing David time away from the house for a while.
I volunteer because I get enormous satisfaction from being able to be of practical help to people in the community, and it provides a lot of variety in the people who I meet and in the needs that I can support. In addition, because the type of projects undertaken changes regularly, I am constantly facing new challenges in ways of supporting the community.
l If anyone would like refer themselves or somebody else to these services, ring the Grantham office on 0845 054 7171 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Red Cross also would like to hear from anyone who would be interested in becoming a volunteer like Teresa.