A week in the life of a telephone befriender by John Sinnott CSNW volunteer.
Monday 1st February 2021: Called Daniel this afternoon (teatime) after a busy day thus far including looking after our two lively puppies Henry and Hamish and a home appointment with a double glazing salesman this morning. My good wife, a mental health nurse practitioner is at work today. I have been a telephone befriender to Daniel for just a few months but we gelled from the get-go on our first call and subsequent calls continue to be positive and joyful despite the fact that he has numerous serious health issues. His positive attitude is admirable and I tell him so. We chat for half an hour but our chats usually last up to an hour and his sense of humour is both joyful and inspiring.
Tuesday 2nd February, evening: I called Jim’s number, one of the participants I support, but due to his advanced hearing difficulties due to health conditions, I invariably speak with his amazing caring wife who updates me on his progress during our weekly calls.
She informs me of good news! With the support of their loving family, they are soon to move to a bungalow with modifications to accommodate Jim’s physical limitations, hopefully this spring! Jim enjoys his hobby of making pen cases out of olive wood and colourful acrylic on his various mechanical shaping machines.
Thursday 4th February mid-afternoon I call Alex and we chat for half an hour followed by a call to Alison at teatime. Alex tells me about his new TV sports station focusing on boxing history and some classic boxing contests both past and present around the world. We share the same interest in all things boxing. Book plug alert! I wrote a boxing history book some years ago relating to my native towns of Widnes & Runcorn (1900-1960) and I still have some copies for sale!
Anyway, moving swiftly on! Alison by nature is fairly reserved so our conversations on the phone tend to last a little more than a few minutes but nevertheless, she seems glad that I call her and we share a few chuckles along the way. Pre-pandemic Alison really looked forward to my weekly visits where I would take her out in my car for afternoon tea then play anything up to 15-20 games of dominoes with most of the wins in favour of Alison with a satisfying smile!
Friday 5th February mid-afternoon call to Roger who will be celebrating his 94th birthday soon and a veteran of the D-Day Landings of 1944 when he was just 17! I have been his befriender for over 2 years and I know that he misses our pre-pandemic time together as do Alison and Jim who I’ve known for almost 4 and 3 years respectively. The national lockdowns have clearly impacted negatively on millions of people in our fine nation not least our older vulnerable citizens like those mentioned who I am proud to know.
I would like conclude by sharing one of my favourite quotations attributed to Stephen Grellet:
I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again
Stephen Grellet (1772-1855) French-American Quaker missionary