Stroke survivor Rob Vinson has music back in his life again thanks to Community Visitors Scheme volunteer Anita Ferry.
A previously talented and active member of the Bundaberg community, Rob’s life ground to a halt after suffering a stroke in February of 2020. The blow to his health came just months after the passing of his beloved wife, Margaret, who he cared for during the last 13 years of her life.
Previously heavily involved in local music as both a singer and pianist, the stroke left Rob unable to use his left side, turning his life upside down overnight.
Before his stroke, Rob, a former tax consultant, also enjoyed painting, knitting, crochet, ceramics, and cross stitch. He was also a talented wedding cake baker and decorator, dressmaker and a champion ballroom dancer.
“I lost everything,” he said.
Rob went from living an active life in the local community to being stranded at home, and he fell into a deep depression. Through the Aged Care Assessment Team, Rob was put in touch with IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme Coordinator Heather Hinsbey and was asked if he would like someone to visit him.
The Community Visitors Scheme pairs volunteer visitors with elderly people in the community and aims to combat social isolation and loneliness.
Heather and her team paired Rob with Anita and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Having Anita visit has meant everything,” Rob said.
“Anita has got me out of depression, and I really look forward to her visits.”
Anita brought music back into Rob’s life, playing the keyboard and singing with him as well as sharing morning teas, playing Scrabble and helping with whatever she could.
Recently during her visiting time Anita has helped Rob to sort through items in his house, organising many donations to op shops and local libraries.
“Whilst sorting through the items it was like going down memory lane for Rob, and I learned so much about Rob and the things he’s done and people he has known,” Anita said.
“He’s such an interesting man. I come here and I learn things. He’s an amazing man,” she said.
Anita has also joined Rob in making Christmas dinner several years in a row.
“If I can help, I do it. I admire him so much,” she said.
Rob said that being part of the Community Visitors Scheme and having Anita visit has changed his life.
“Having Anita visit has been a world changing experience for me,” Rob said.
“I really look forward to Anita’s visits, she’s one in a million!”.
Anita, who has volunteered in different capacities for her whole life, said she loved giving back to the community and encouraged everyone with a spare hour a week to get involved in the Community Visitors Scheme.
“It’s so joyous to meet these wonderful people that you wouldn’t meet otherwise,” she said
Rob has gotten so much out of being a recipient of Community Visitors’ Scheme visits that he has asked if it is possible to help other people suffering from social isolation by being a phone companion.
“I might not be able to play a game or anything like Anita does, but I could brighten someone’s day by being on the other end of the phone,” he said.
Community Visitors Scheme Coordinator Heather Hinsbey said the scheme was currently looking for new volunteers.
“If you have a spare hour a week and would like to make a new friend, please consider volunteering with IMPACT Community Services’ Community Visitors Scheme,” she said.
“Our volunteers take great pride in becoming a regular friendly visitor and enriching the quality of life of these people. Perhaps you’ll enjoy having a game of cards, listening to music, playing a board game, taking a short walk outside, help to write letters, reminisce about days gone by or simply have a chat and a cuppa.”
Heather said volunteers are asked to visit a minimum of once a fortnight doing something both the visitor and recipient enjoy.
Volunteer opportunities are available in Bundaberg, Monto, Gayndah, Childers and Gin Gin.
If you’d like to know more about volunteering, call Heather on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.