When Tricia Lodge, 71, retired and moved to the North Yorkshire Dales she was keen to find a new interest that would get her out of the house.
A friend gave her a newspaper article about a new Red Cross service in the Yorkshire Moors and Dales, and she immediately decided to apply. Two years later, Tricia is one of the team of volunteers for her local ‘Support at home’ service which is funded by Land Rover – one of eleven rural services supported by the company. ‘Support at home’ is designed to offer practical help and emotional support to help people in a crisis regain their independence and reconnect with their community, and is one of a network of services around the country supporting tens of thousands of people each year.
What Tricia didn’t expect though, was the variety of things she has been asked to do as a volunteer – even, on one occasion, being invited to meet a farmer’s prize cow.
“No two cases are the same. I help people with everyday tasks such as hanging out the washing or preparing food; things they can’t do for themselves due to injury or illness. On another occasion I might help someone fill in forms, accompany them to the shops when they are regaining their confidence after a stay in hospital, or I might just pop round for a chat and some companionship”.
“On one memorable day I found myself being introduced to my client’s favourite cow Briony – even though I don’t like being close to cattle. It was a lovely coincidence to find that Briony is a ‘Red Cross’, a cross between a Swedish Red and a Hereford.”
Tricia feels she is often able to act as an advocate for people in accessing council services and help from other charities. “We recently helped a gentleman living in unheated and unsuitable accommodation to find a place in sheltered housing, and were able to put him in touch with a charity that supplied a mobility scooter. It is great to see him mobile and able to get out of the house again.”
“I am interested in people,” she says. “I enjoy meeting people and feel privileged to be able to support them at difficult times in their lives,” she said.
“I work closely with the Red Cross team who match me carefully to a client, who I then work with for up to three months. It’s up to me how much time I spend, but in order to become a volunteer I needed to commit to a minimum of one hour a week. However, I enjoy what I am doing and regularly spend half a day a week – sometimes up to ten hours – volunteering each week.”
The Support At Home service in the Moors and Dales is one of many services around the country which are currently looking for more people like Tricia who would like to contribute to the work of the Red Cross in their area.
Colette Kemp, the Red Cross manager for the Moors and Dales, based in Northallerton, hopes that potential new volunteers will come forward.
“Thanks to Land Rover’s support we have a fantastic service across the Moors and Dales, but like all our services, we always need more volunteers.” she said.
Information can be found at www.redcross.org.uk and searching for ‘Support At Home’.
The Moors and Dales service is one of eleven around the country which are funded by Land Rover UK in a £2 million partnership. The aim of the service is to tackle rural isolation and help people to remain independent in their own homes following a crisis in their lives.
The work of the Red Cross in North Yorkshire can be seen in a short film: