After his wife passed away Roger found it difficult to get involved in life outside his home. That's when he met Jos, a volunteer for the ACE Neighbours project, and formed a special bond that would change both of their lives.
Roger’s job took him all over the UK; when he was at home he was involved in family life and raising his children. So despite living in Keynsham for over 50 years Roger hadn’t had the opportunity to develop many social links locally. When his wife passed away Roger found it difficult to get involved in life outside his home: “I was lonely and wanted to find some way out of my situation. Really I needed someone to go with and then I saw the advert for ACE Neighbours and gave them a call.”
The ACE Neighbours project, run by our community development team, aims to reduce loneliness and isolation in older people in Filwood, Hartcliffe, Keynsham, Lawrence Hill and Withywood. Connecting with people and taking part in activities can make all the difference, but it can be a bit daunting going out to something on your own. Not surprisingly, most people would prefer to have someone to go with. This is where ACE Neighbours can make a difference. A volunteer is matched with an older person experiencing loneliness and together they can try things until the person feels confident getting out and about on their own.
Jos was a stimulus – she made me think outside the box. I’ve learnt that there are things out there if you can find them
ACE Neighbours introduced Roger to volunteer Jos and he recalls his first meeting with her: “We hit it off straight away. Jos arranged to come back each week and we looked through the list of activities on offer.”
Roger has become a regular at Aquaterra's Somerdale Shed, a community shed project in Keynsham, which keeps him busy once or twice a week. He also wanted to become involved in other activities on the remaining days of the week but didn’t know where to start. Noticing an old golf net in Roger’s garden, Jos went with Roger to Stockwood driving range. He is also learning the clarinet at home and jumped at the chance of going along to a newly formed music project, and then also went along on his own to a local orchestra. He’s rejoined Keynsham Photography Club and volunteers at Community at 67. Every Friday Roger also volunteers at a cookery club at a local community centre and has just applied to help with the children’s cookery club the same evening.
Roger tells us: “Before Jos started visiting, I didn’t know how to get out of the problem. I’d been a very individual person – I don’t make friends or socialise easily. I knew I needed to make an internal effort. Jos was a stimulus – she made me think outside the box. I’ve learnt that there are things out there if you can find them.” Jos recalls: “I turned up one day and there was an electric bike outside!” Roger adds: “When the good weather comes I’ll use my bike to cycle to Saltford.” Jos is going to keep in touch with Roger and see how his new electric life is going! And of his time with Jos, Roger says: “Jos has opened my eyes. She’s been a real facilitator.”
Do you know an older person (aged over 65) in Filwood, Hartcliffe, Keynsham, Lawrence Hill or Withywood who is lacking in confidence to get out and about, and would like someone to go along to an activity with them for moral support? If so, get in touch with the project. ACE Neighbours is also in need of friendly volunteers over the age of 60. Are you interested in supporting someone to connect with things going on in their area for 6 months? Volunteers receive training, on-going support and all expenses are paid. If you’d like to know more about the ACE Neighbours project, contact Catherine on 07817 632963 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.