Yvonne Spokes knows what it’s like to be lonely. That’s why two years ago she joined the Community Visitors Scheme run by IMPACT Community Services. Yvonne, who is also a member of a walking group, was looking for something more in her life when she first heard about the scheme, which connects volunteer visitors with elderly people in the community. Excited to ease the loneliness in someone else’s life, she immediately signed up and was paired with Barbara Wheeler, now aged 96.
The two hit it off immediately and have formed a very special bond. Through their weekly visits they have introduced their families to each other and support one another through the highs and lows of life.
Barbara said she was surprised when asked if she’d like a visitor, but Yvonne’s visits have been life-changing.
“[I was] asked one day if I’d like a visitor, and I said yes please so Yvonne started to visit and we’ve become very close friends,” she said.
“She has made so much of a difference to my life. I used to talk about the things I didn’t like in my life, but Yvonne has taught me to stop doing that and to live in the moment. Now I live for each day. She’s like a light when she comes into the room, and I always get a hug!”
Interviewing the pair together, the special bond they have developed since joining the Community Visitor Scheme is clear. They both smiled as they reflected on their shyness the day they met, however they soon overcame this and formed a friendship like no other.
“After Yvonne came and we started to talk, it made me feel like I still have a place in the world,” Barbara said.
Yvonne says she looks forward to their weekly visits as much as Barbara does, and has found comfort in the strong connection the two have formed.
“For me, it’s like having my mother back again,” she said.
“We can say anything to each other… we’ve found that we’ve led very similar lives and we have a lot in common!”.
This month, the Community Visitor Scheme is celebrating it’s 30 year anniversary. The program links visitors with older people who live at home and receive an aged care package or live in an aged care facility and aims to combat social isolation in the elderly. There are currently 125 volunteer visitors taking part in the program visiting people in Bundaberg, Childers, Gin Gin and North Burnett.
Program manager Heather Hinsbey said IMPACT welcomes volunteers aged 18 and over to join the program.
“If you have a little spare time, would like to make a new friend and change someone’s life for the better then we’d love to talk to you about joining our Community Volunteer Scheme,” Mrs Hinsbey said.
“We will partner you with an older person who is experiencing social isolation, so you can make regular visits either in their home or aged care facility. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in someone else’s life, and both the visitors and older people can benefit from each other’s life experiences and wisdom,” she said.
The Community Visitors Scheme provides a regular familiar face for an aged person to interact with, whether that be with a cuppa and a chat, board game, or even walk.
The program ask that volunteers visit a minimum of once a fortnight and spend time doing something you both enjoy.
For more information on the scheme, call Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233. You can read more about volunteering with the Community Visitors Scheme here.