They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ but sometimes all you really want to say is thank you.
Mary sent a beautiful hand-written card to thank Pauline, an older volunteer, who helped her to walk with confidence
Walking with Confidence, Age UK Leeds’ partner project for Time to Shine, coordinates volunteers to spend time with older people and help them get out and about.
The project aims to help people who have lost their confidence due to changes in their circumstances such as illness or bereavement.
Mary has ongoing health problems and is the main carer for her 54 year old son who has learning disabilities.
Before the project she felt unwell and had stopped doing simple things like shopping, going to keep fit and volunteering at her local church.
After she was discharged from St James’ hospital one of the Age UK Leeds Hospital to Home coordinators suggested that she get involved in the project to help her get back on her feet.
Mary was referred in November 2015 and after a home visit from Adie, the project coordinator, she was introduced to Pauline and the two became fast friends.
They agreed that Pauline would visit once a week to accompany Mary on shopping trips and to help her start using the buses again.
Mary said: “It was reassuring to have Pauline with me and I enjoyed her company. Just having her with me made me feel a lot better.”
Mary started going to Waitrose again – which is a short walk from her house – and also went on the bus into Leeds city centre to do some Christmas shopping.
“The weather wasn’t always good so some weeks we didn’t go out, we just chatted. Pauline was always sympathetic and a good listener. I looked forward to Pauline coming and we had lots of things in common. It was good having someone around your own age.”
Mary said that her life had changed for the better as a direct result of the project and that the weekly visit from Pauline helped her to get her life back.
“My health condition improved so I started to feel much better – and more like my old self. Having Pauline do things with me gave me more and more confidence. I started helping with the teas again at church and also went back to keep fit. I went on the bus shopping and felt more able to do things – well, most things!”
Time to Shine asked Mary what life was like for her now and how she felt after Walking with Confidence:
“I feel so much better – this project has really helped me a lot. My health has improved and I feel more positive.”
And her advice to others who are thinking of getting involved?
“Just do it! It was so valuable to me. It is such a fantastic idea and I especially think having old volunteers is beneficial.”
Walking with Confidence – Increasing older people’s independence by walking together
The Walking with Confidence project from Age UK Leeds aims to bolster older people’s independence through the help of skilled and compassionate volunteers. Lending support and a reassuring presence can help people get out to their local shops, pub, post office or community centre and not be confined to their four walls. Volunteers will receive specialised training so that they can provide the right fit of support, whether that means just walking alongside someone or helping them to use public transport.
For more information please visit: www.ageuk.org.uk/leeds/our-services/walking-with-confidence