The British Red Cross in Swindon is looking for compassionate volunteers to provide practical and emotional support to people who have recently been discharged from hospital, helping them regain their independence.
The Red Cross provides short-term care and support in the home for people after an accident or illness, giving them the confidence to continue their daily lives. This service can be provided following a stay in hospital or to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.
John Hill, from Walcot, Swindon, credits home from hospital volunteer Angie Matthews with helping him get back on his feet after he had to undergo a lengthy hospital stay following serious health problems last year.
John’s drama started when his mobility began to fail. He was unable to complete even the simplest tasks, like putting a ready meal into the microwave, without collapsing. Living in a second floor flat, he quickly became housebound and lost all contact with the outside world. Isolated and alone, the retired Royal Marine company sergeant major turned to alcohol.
One day John, 65, collapsed. He managed to drag himself into the bathroom, where he fell unconscious. John does not know how long he lay on the floor, but a concerned neighbour raised the alarm and he was rushed to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
Weighing just eight stone, half his former weight, John was bedridden. The blood supply to his major organs had been damaged, he was suffering from pressure sores and his liver was shutting down.
He spent three months in hospital and when it was time to come home the Red Cross organised for a volunteer to settle him in to his new ground floor flat.
“It was a huge shock to go from being in hospital with lots of people, to all of a sudden being home in an empty flat,” said John.
“I cannot sing their praises enough. It is very depressing living alone, but their visits cheered me up. They changed my life around, if it was not for the Red Cross I do not know what would have happened. The highlight of my week was when the Red Cross volunteer came to visit and they would phone me up to check everything was OK. They were just brilliant.”
Angie Matthews, from Swindon, visited John once a week and helped with simple tasks like shopping, filling in forms, reading the electricity meter and writing letters.
“These may seem like small things but they are big to people like John,” said Angie. “It is very rewarding being a volunteer and seeing how just a little bit of human contact can mean so much and help bring them back to their former selves.”
Volunteers need to be compassionate, have a friendly and caring personality and be available for a minimum of two hours per week. The role requires volunteers to make home visits giving practical support with light domestic tasks, shopping and collecting prescriptions and providing emotional support, reassurance and encouragement. The Red Cross is specifically looking for people from the SW2, SW3 and SW5 areas of Swindon.
To find out more, please contact Ann Mortimor, home from hospital co-ordinator on 01793 646376 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the Red Cross visit redcross.org.uk/careinthehome
Notes to editors
For more information on the British Red Cross please visit: http://www.redcross.org.uk
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.