Listen to Penny's story

Penny is a volunteer and the main carer for her husband who has Parkinson’s. Between caring for her husband, Penny normally volunteers for Healthwatch Kent and attends various meetings.

Penny also volunteers for The Silver Line, a free helpline for the older generation which she has done for around nine years. She is also on the committee for the Women’s Institute. 

During lockdown, Penny has been at home with her husband.

I help him with dressing, showering, his medication, cooking and cleaning. I have to prompt him with his memory as he just forgets and can’t retrieve things. It’s okay to admit you’re frustrated. Things are mentally frustrating for me and for him. It’s easier to care for someone you are not related to. Our family call my husband on Zoom which gives me a chance to have some down time. The call is a positive part of his day

To relax, Penny enjoys knitting, cooking and her garden.

My husband knows not to disturb me if I’m knitting so it is my downtime in the sense that I don’t have to be mentally available for him. I get up very early so I have an hour on my own before he gets up to relax or walk around the garden. I also do lots of cooking and baking. I’m planning on making “thank you” parcels with scones in them, just to say thank you to those that are helping. I enjoy writing letters as it relaxes me, it’s really important to make sure people are not lonely.

Penny chose to volunteer as she wants to help people. 

The community is really helping me, and I wanted to give back. I’m good with people too. Most of the voluntary roles are human beings with needs and challenges that need to find a way forward, I help find pathways for people to tread. My favourite part of volunteering is when people resolve the things they are challenged with and are happier than they were before.

When asked if her voluntary role has changed since lockdown, Penny told us

Yes, I’m not going out of the house and I’m now home all the time. I am not meeting board members or seeing people at Healthwatch. Social interaction has changed

Penny’s advice for people who want to volunteer is:

Make sure you understand how much time you have to give and think about what things you’re interested in. Meet and talk to someone who is already a volunteer. It feels good to help other people and lockdown has made it apparent that people enjoy helping others.

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