16 July 2009
Ninety one-year-old Ceri Downes doesn’t worry too much about living alone in an isolated country village because a trusty Red Cross volunteer visits every week – on a steam train.
Ceri lives in rural Denbighshire in North Wales, a beautiful area that’s very popular with retired people. However, many of the older residents there live in quite isolated villages and often their families live many miles away. Understandably, as they get older, some people need a little extra company and support – and that’s where the Red Cross comes in.
Roz Nash (61) volunteers for the care in the home service. Once a week, she catches a steam train to the rural idyll where she spends the day chatting, helping round the house and taking Ceri out and about. The visit is a real treat for the pensioner, who said: “I live on my own and it’s lonely at times, so it certainly helps when I know Roz is coming.”
For Roz, too, the trip is a highlight of her week. “I really enjoy Ceri’s company,” she said. “She’s a great conversationalist and has a lovely sense of humour. I’m always amazed by how quickly the time goes.”
Susan Whalley, the local service manager, sees the benefits that volunteers such as Roz bring to local residents on a daily basis. She said: “Quite often people just want somebody to talk to. Maybe they’ve lost a partner and they’re still grieving. We help them to combat their loneliness and isolation, and also encourage them to link up with local social groups.”
Susan herself recently helped another local resident, Roy Newall (74), by helping him apply for disability benefits and introducing him to a nearby luncheon group. Roy recalled: “The problem is you get terribly lonely and just rely on your TV. Now I’ve met some people I didn’t know before and I’m still going to the luncheon club. It’s nice to have somebody to talk to.”
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History of the Red Cross