accessibility & help

New volunteers needed to support people returning from hospital

20 August 2015

Deirdre White with support at home volunteer Gina Harfield

A Swindon pensioner has praised the support she received from the British Red Cross when she returned home after a ten-week stay in hospital.

Deirdre White, of Highworth, Swindon, was admitted to the Great Western Hospital at the end of March after a bad fall resulted in surgery for a fractured femur.

After weeks of rehabilitation on the ward Deirdre was worried about how she would cope at home with basic tasks such as shopping.

When she was told about the Red Cross support at home service, providing six weeks of support after a hospital stay, she was instantly relieved. Now Deirdre’s encouraging potential volunteers to come forward to help others like her.

Deirdre, who lives in a retirement housing complex, recounts her experience: “The accident was a real shock - I was knocked over by a resident who slipped on the stairs. I didn’t move out of the way quickly enough and went flying. I couldn’t move so I knew I’d done something and it turned out to be a fractured femur. I had an operation the next day.

“I’d had a bad time after a previous operation several years ago so I felt very agitated and worried about coming home. I thought things would be hard to manage. Before the accident I already used a walker and needed care twice a day. After the accident I wasn’t able to go out or do my shopping."

After reading a leaflet about the Red Cross support at home service, Deirdre got in touch with us to see if we could help.

Deirdre was visited by Gina Harfield, who spent seven years as a volunteer with the Red Cross before recently becoming a member of staff. Deirdre couldn’t believe what Gina told her about the service and that she could help with her shopping until she was able to do it again herself.

“She is the most brilliant shopper, she really is,” says Deirdre. “She’s quick - I could never believe she was back when she was - and always got the right things and on top of all that she’d put it all away. She was really friendly, which was really important to me at that time as I wasn’t able to go out and was worried about not seeing anyone.

“It reassured my two sons that I had some support because they don’t live nearby. It just was sort of a life-saver for me - suddenly a whole load of my worries disappeared. I couldn’t believe it. It was extraordinary. I had no idea that people could do this or would want to do this. I think it’s brilliant. Brilliant!”

Gina says: “While I’m now a member of staff at the Red Cross I spent seven years as a volunteer. We’re looking for new volunteers at the moment and I can really recommend the experience. I liked volunteering because I could fit it around everything else I was doing. You get to meet so many different people and make a real difference to them at a time of crisis. The resilience and positivity of people is so humbling. It’s a lovely thing to be part of.”

Deirdre will take several more months to recover from her operation but she is enjoying being back in her own home. She has accepted further support from Age UK’s befriending service so she doesn’t feel so isolated while she’s unable to get out and about. 

The Red Cross support at home service works in partnership with Age UK and also with Aster Living, a housing, homes and care and support services provider.

The Red Cross is looking for volunteers in Swindon and particularly in the Highworth, Park South, Park North and Penhill areas of the city. If you would like more information please contact Naomi Mason on 01793 859935.

Related Tags: