I have recently attended two sessions delivered by Compassionate Communities UK. It has really inspired me to be involved and it has reassured me that life is good, people are generally kind and here at Sandwell Advocacy our volunteers are clearly talking the talk (excuse the pun) and walking the walk.
Much has been researched and written about Compassionate Communities but there are a couple of key themes that stick with me. The first relates to evolution and it would appear that it wasn’t always about survival of the fittest, more importantly it was survival of the kindest. Human beings need other human beings, we need social interactions – love, laughter and friendship. Secondly, this cannot be prescribed, there is no magic pill, no magic wand to wave and make it all better. We have to make it happen.
This is why I think our volunteers are already compassionate connectors. In lockdown local people came forward to help others. Whether that be delivering food parcels, collecting prescriptions or in our case making phone calls.
Social isolation is a bigger killer than most of the illnesses we associate with death: smoking, obesity, heart disease, the list goes on. Our volunteers call their friends regularly for a chat, they often reminisce on happier times but they also let off steam and like most of us they have a chunter about current affairs and how it impacts on their lives.
The volunteers have all said how much they enjoy these calls, they get a massive sense of wellbeing knowing they are helping someone but they also feel happiness, listening to other people and finding out how their day has been. This is compassion, they are present, they understand, they feel and they help.
Having volunteered myself I know how it works. I did a lot of fundraising for a national cancer charity and I was also asked to be an ambassador for them, doing talks and inspiring and encouraging others to volunteer. I did a number of challenges to raise money and I came away with a massive sense of achievement. Each time I did something good I seemed to be rewarded, this made me want to do more.
So, I would like to ask ………. Do you think you are a good listener? Do you have half an hour each week to make a huge difference to someone’s life? We will train and support you through the process and you in return will get that buzz or if you are a big softy like me, you will get that warm fuzzy feeling inside knowing you are helping someone else through what could be a really difficult and lonely time. Give us a call, ask us any questions and get involved. Let’s see more compassion, it’s probably in you already, just give it a try.
Juanita Williams, Volunteer Development Officer.
Contact me on 0121 520 8070 or Juanita.firstname.lastname@example.org