We are all Members…

Peter Batten writes about his involvement with the Neighbourhood Care Scheme

One morning, early in January, I went round to see my friend Bob. I visit him once a week for tea and a chat. This morning he was particularly pleased to see me. His left eye had been troubling him for several weeks and that day he woke up in agony. He asked me to phone his Doctor. I soon became involved in a whole series of calls, including arrangements for an ambulance. My final job was to help the ambulance team get him out of his flat and off to the Eye Hospital.

At this point you may be wondering why I had to do all this for Bob? He has two problems. Severe arthritis in his legs makes it very difficult for him to leave his first floor flat. But his life is even more restricted by the fact that about five years ago he became totally deaf. I was introduced to Bob almost three years ago by the Neighbourhood Care Scheme.

In 2006 I joined the Scheme as a volunteer. For my first two years I tried to support a very lonely and isolated man. This was not easy. Unfortunately, I became seriously ill and had to give up for several months. When I recovered Naomi, the co-ordinator, asked me to meet Bob, who lives quite close to me. We hit it off very quickly. Bob has a lively interest in many things, but we found that we shared some particular interests: Football [Bob is a lifelong Brighton supporter], Snooker and Tennis [we have been fans of Andy Murray from the days when he was often criticised in the press]. Our weekly chats usually start with a roundup of the latest results from the Premier League, but if there is a Snooker tournament, that will take precedence. Incidentally, from day one of the present season, and although he is not a supporter, Bob has been convinced that Manchester United would top the Premiership. Sometimes Bob may ask my advice about letters he has received or ask me to make an important telephone call. Communication between us is a little slow, because I have to write down all the things I wish to say. He can respond immediately, but then off I go again with pen and paper.

I am one of the hundreds of volunteers who work for the Neighbourhood Care Scheme, which now covers much of Brighton and Hove. The Scheme offers help to people over 60 and younger people with physical disabilities, who are lonely and isolated. Often, like Bob, they are housebound by one or more physical disability. Sometimes the Scheme offers support to those who care for such people. It is work of great value to the community and is warmly appreciated by those, like Bob, who receive support.

For those who volunteer the rewards are surprising. Though not every relationship is straightforward, the sense of satisfaction which comes from helping a fellow human being, even in a small way, is remarkable and very inspiring. Margaret Thatcher once asserted, “There is no such thing as Society”. My reply is in my title: “We are all members…one of another”.

If you would like to volunteer or need some support yourself, then you can contact the Scheme on 01273 775888 or email: ncs@bh-impetus.org. Website: www.bh-impetus.org.

Donations are always welcome.

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