Lauren’s volunteering story
Volunteers’ Week is a time to say thank you to our volunteers for their time and commitment, as well as recognise their fantastic contribution to carers in East Sussex.
Lauren is 70 years old and lives in Seaford, East Sussex. Lauren volunteers for Care for the Carers’ Carers in Touch service, which offers phone calls to carers so that they can stay connected and feel less isolated.
When Lauren retired, she wanted to do volunteering work. Lauren was working in the care sector since 1986 and has a lot of experience with adults with learning disabilities and children. Lauren is particularly interested in supporting people living with dementia as she feels they can be forgotten about. We asked Lauren about her volunteering role.
How did you start volunteering with Care for the Carers?
“I have been volunteering for a dementia support service for a few years and had to stop because of the pandemic.
Last year, during lockdown, my daughter suggested that I contact Care for the Carers who were looking for volunteers for their Carers in Touch service to speak with isolated carers. I could volunteer from home during lockdown, as it is over the phone. I did the training and began calling carers earlier this year for two hours per week on Thursday mornings. Everyone at Care for the Carers has been friendly, helpful and supportive.
What does your volunteering involve?
When I speak with carers, I listen to them and the call focuses on the carer and what he or she would like to talk about. I can usually pick up on how a carer is feeling and I have had very different conversations. Carers may tell me about their problems or troubles and whether they need extra support. My role would be to refer them back to the Hub for one of the support workers to contact them. Some carers are desperate and at the end of their tether. Others might want to talk about the old days and what they have done, as well as their life experiences.
Some carers can feel that they are plodding on and just getting by each day. At the beginning of a conversation, they may feel there is no change since we last spoke and they have nothing to say. Then we start chatting and by the end of the conversation, there is a lightness in their voice.
I think that the carers I speak with appreciate the call and most just enjoy chatting, often talking about themselves, as they might get little feedback from the person that they care for. Carers can be feeling isolated and lonely, so if I have made a difference to one person’s life, that is great. It is important that they know that someone out there cares and is calling to find out how they are. It’s tough for carers and they appreciate someone asking how they are and how they are coping, and it is important that carers give themselves that special time. I have so much admiration and I am in awe of many of the carers I speak with.
A lot of carers are caring for someone with dementia and some feel they have ‘lost’ their husband, wife or partner already as the years have gone by. It must be so hard especially if their partner can be challenging at times, or doesn’t remember who they are. It would be heart breaking to be in that position.
What do you like about volunteering?
I was quite surprised to find how much I actually enjoy talking to carers and making calls. I look forward to talking to carers and hearing their stories; they have so much to say and tell. Twenty to thirty minutes is quite a long time to talk on the phone, and I am pleased that I am making a difference to carers and that they feel more cheerful than when they woke up that morning. I enjoy chatting to them, they can be quite ‘colourful’ and it is interesting to hear about their lives.
I haven’t met the other volunteers face-to-face yet, however I feel the camaraderie and look forward to meeting them in person at some point.
What do you get out of volunteering for yourself?
I enjoy talking to people and it is entertaining sometimes. If I have made a difference, albeit a small one, I feel good about it. I wanted to do something worthwhile at home; this is perfect for me.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering?
I recommend it and I would say give it a go. It can be difficult, as many carers are really struggling. Care for the Carers is a brilliant organisation. I had no idea about what a brilliant service they offer and recommend Care for the Carers to anyone wanting to do voluntary work.”
Jennifer Twist, Chief Executive, Care for the Carers says; “We want to say a big thank you to our Carers in Touch volunteers who give up their time to provide vital support to carers. The pandemic has been especially hard for so many carers, and these calls provide a friendly voice at a time when many have felt completely isolated.”
“Carers tell us that it makes a huge difference to know that they are not alone, and that having a regular chat helps reduce the pressure.”
Volunteer with us
We want to say a huge thank you to Lauren and all of our volunteers for giving their time and skills and supporting carers. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, we have a range of roles you may be interested in. Please contact us for further information. You can also read Sharon’s story here who volunteers with us.
Carers in Touch service
The Carers in Touch service is a phone-listening service for isolated, unpaid carers. The service was started during the pandemic, as it was apparent many carers were being left to manage alone with little or no outside contact.
Carers receive regular calls from a team of trained volunteers, and it is a chance for carers to chat about whatever they want to talk about. Topics are varied and can include the issues the carer is facing, a chance to offload their worries and also an opportunity to talk about something completely different and have a light hearted conversation. Volunteers enjoy discussing music, gardening, travel, pets, the latest TV programmes, as well as numerous other subjects. If you are a carer and would like to receive a listening call, please contact us for further information.
Find out more about Volunteers’ Week here.