Stories

Diane & Tina

Diane and Tina were introduced as a result of targeted locality work in the Kirriemuir area. When Diane and the development worker met she didn’t require advocacy support for specific issues but she was feeling socially isolated and, due to her husband’s ill health, was worried about how she might have her voice heard in future. Since meeting, Diane and Tina have developed a good rapport and enjoy one another’s company. Tina has been able to support Diane to reconnect to her local community and act as a sounding board when dealing with issues to do with her care.

Here is Diane & Tina’s citizen advocacy journey in their own words:

I am a wheelchair user with complex medical issues, which in the main are due to advancing years and stupidly smoking for over 40 years. I took early retirement on medical grounds, as did my husband and he became my 24/7 carer.  As an only child I had been surrounded by friends, cousins and relatives. This continued throughout schooling, student nurse training, and all the many different jobs, being wife and mother and much later as being a mature student and as a disability advisor. 

As I became increasingly dependent upon my wheelchair, it became a barrier to meeting friends as their houses were not wheelchair accessible and they did not have other necessary facilities. Coffee shops in my local town were not accessible due to huge steps onto very narrow pavements. Sadly, many friends had died well before their time and my best friend had moved to another county.  I felt increasingly lonely and although my husband was at home, I longed for female company. Luckily my hobbies and passions are drawing, painting, crafts and words.  After an operation to remove a cataract left me partially sighted in one eye, I felt bereft and isolated apart from the telephone and the occasional call. I also felt a burden to my poor husband (he’s the quiet one and I am the talker) as his own interests of film and bird watching declined as he did not want to leave me on my own. To give him respite, I accepted a place at Kirriemuir Day Care, I love it as the people are friendly and we have games and quizzes and the occasional speaker.

Moving to Kirriemuir from London last year, I was looking for opportunities to connect with the community here and offer my time.  

Over the years I had come to realise how difficult life can be for people, especially older folk and those less able, who may have to deal with authorities or any sort of big business; life these days can be complicated!  Also for various reasons including the pace of modern life, many people don’t have family or friends able to spend time visiting or helping with matters official or otherwise and you do not need any special talent to make a difference to someone’s daily grind.

This brings me to the point at which, perhaps, I should have started.      pic3

I had compiled a quiz of Christian names which we were doing before lunch and we were to have a talk from Angus Independent Advocacy (AIA) after lunch. Although generally dreadful at recalling names, I will always remember hers, as she was the first clue of my quiz: - “Heat the Lass”.  After her inspiring talk I spoke to her privately about how I would like to have someone in my life whom I could build a rapport with. She gave me information and we made an appointment for Heather to see me at home. The first of many such visits. Heather was easy to talk with as she asked me about my background and said that she would go into more detail over the coming weeks. She asked about likes (chocolate, Roy Orbison, being with family and friends); also dislikes (offal or shell-fish, SPIDERS and heights). Even at this early stage she asked if there was anything which would be a ‘Deal Breaker’ which was “if the person was an Atheist”. I don’t mind if they are not a Christian or worship Buddha provided they believe in a higher being.  

Well, one day I spotted a poster in our local Boots, advertising a drop-in whereby anyone interested could meet the AIA team to find out about Citizen Advocacy. I went along and met Heather and once I had gained a little information, I felt very drawn to volunteering, as this seemed to be what I had been involved in un-knowingly over the past few years!  After a period of discussions and preparation with Heather she decided to ‘Partner’ me with a local lady – Diane, as she felt that there was common ground between us.

Heather told me a few factors about my potential Citizen Advocate and I was especially interested to hear that she is English. The exiting time came for Heather to bring her to my home to meet with us. Heather sat on one side once introductions had been made, to observe and intervene only if the conversation was faltering.  At the end of the first visit we discussed whether we still wanted Heather to join us, as conversation had flowed so easily we decided we were ready “to go it alone”.  pic

We were introduced by Heather some months before Christmas and we seemed to click straight away- there were no awkward moments on our first ‘date’!

We meet when we can at home and we email and telephone each other. Recently Tina introduced me to a new church as I was nervous to go on my own. I was most grateful and I am now attending independently. I have enjoyed connecting with other parishioners. My husband now has to attend for renal dialysis three times a week at Ninewells, which thankfully matches my day-care times. Often Tina will come for a chat when I get home, as Fred does not arrive home until early evening. Over the future there will be plenty of time to meet or go out for outings and also to regularly meet with Heather. I realise how lucky Tina and I were, as from our first meeting there were no awkward silences. The more we get to know each other the more commonalities we have; we are able to discuss issues of the day. Housework is not subject we intend to discuss! I would like to pass on much gratitude to Angus Advocacy in their Kirriemuir project and to everyone and their teams ; not forgetting the foresight by the manager and staff of Kirriemuir day care for inviting Heather to speak to us. Without the day care and Heather’s subsequent intervention I would still be a sad and lonely person.

I try to meet up with Diane every 10 days to two weeks and we keep in contact by telephone or email contact in between.  I enjoy my time spent visiting Diane and her husband Fred. We share a similar sense of humour and can speak on a variety of topics. I would like to think that should matters arise, Diane will feel that she can trust me to act in her interests. To date, I have not needed to step-up to a full role of Advocacy and frankly I will not know if I am successful in that role until tested. Meanwhile, I will enjoy our growing friendship.

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Lily & Irena

Lily & Irena were introduced in March 2013.  At that time Lily attended a local day centre and had a fairly active social life.  However, prior to meeting Irena, she was struggling to sustain equal and meaningful friendships.  She was also struggling to speak up for herself.  Lily’s sister, Catherine, took care of her finances and visited when she could, but as she lived in England this wasn’t always easy.

Lily & Irena had both lived in their communities for many years and were around the same age.  They were therefore able to build a rapport based on shared stories from the past and found that their shared sense of humour allowed them to chat easily.

Lily & Irena met every few weeks, usually for a cup of tea and chat (and to listen to ‘old records’!).  Irena supported Lily with some practical issues, including chasing up a physiotherapy referral, applying for a taxi card and accessing other services to help her remain in her sheltered house.  Lily used to attend a local fiddle club dance once a month, but since her house mate passed away a few years ago she had stopped attending.  Irena and her husband facilitated an outing to this club which they all thoroughly enjoyed.

"Knowing that Lily had a regular visitor who could see how she was copying on her own, give her assistance on practical matters and, most importantly be the friend that Lily needed, was an enormous benefit to both Lily and myself.  As Lily's sister, it was very comforting for me to know that Lily had a real friend in Irena."  Catherine (Lily's sister)

In 2015 Lily’s health started to deteriorate further and it was decided she would be best cared for in a nursing home.  Lily understood that this was for the best, but found the transition quite difficult.  However, she still had her regular visits from Irena and found that this eased some of her anxieties and the upheaval of the move.

Sadly, Lily passed away in February 2016.  Irena enjoys recalling the time they spent together, commenting that "she had become part of my life".

Lily Irena 80th Birthday Party Photo

 

Derek & Bill

Sharing a laugh at the AIA Winter Ceilidh, March 2014

Bill & Derek met in March 2014.  Derek had not long moved from his family home to his own house in a sheltered housing complex.  This was a big change for Derek, who had always lived with his parents in a different town.  He was eager to have a Citizen Advocate to help him to speak up regarding his needs and wishes so that he could be more independent.
 
Bill had not long retired and was interested in connecting with someone in his local community who was struggling to have their voice heard.

“I feel that I can speak to Bill about anything.  He always puts me at ease by starting the conversation and he is really funny, so we have a great laugh together.”  Derek

In the short time that they have been matched, Derek & Bill have become good friends.  They meet most weeks for catch up.  Bill has supported Derek to chase up contractors regarding some issues he was having with renovations on his house.  They have also explored accessible pubs in the town where they live.  They managed to find a few which were wheelchair friendly, so Derek is looking forward to being able to meet up independently with his friends for a game of pool.

Enjoying the annual AIA BBQ, August 2014

Derek loves Formula 1 and recently enjoyed a few days at the Grand Prix in Barcelona; much to Bill’s jealousy!  Travel is another common interest, and they enjoy comparing stories of their various holidays.  Out with their meetings Bill and Derek text one another, and with Derek becoming more confident speaking on the phone they sometimes call each other for a chat or to arrange meeting up.  Derek is really good with technology, so he has been giving Bill some advice on how to use his smart phone.  Derek recently got an electric wheelchair, and now that he has been assessed by Occupational Therapy, he has been enjoying being able to go further afield with Bill.  Both Derek & Bill have enjoyed meeting one another’s families.

Since meeting Bill, Derek feels that his confidence has grown a lot.  Having an independent person by his side is helping Derek to find his own voice.  Bill too feels he is learning from Derek, in terms of focusing on ability rather than disability.  They both recently joined the Board of Directors at AIA and are looking forward to being able to contribute to the development of Citizen Advocacy in Angus.

Annie & Rosie

Anne and Rosie were introduced in March 2013.  Before meeting Rosie, Anne felt lonely and isolated; often describing herself as “living in a bubble”.  Anne was eager to have a Citizen Advocate, but at the same felt anxious about meeting someone new as she can find initiating conversation difficult.  One of the reasons Anne and Rosie were matched was because of their common love of dogs.  Both Anne and Rosie feel that this common interest has helped them to start building a relationship.  They have enjoyed walking together with their four legged friends in tow.

“Being able to bounce ideas off of someone has lifted a weight off of my shoulders.” Anne

Anne says that Rosie has made a really big difference to her life; she now feels she has someone she can talk to and share with.  As well as enjoying their common interests, they have spent time talking through some of the practical difficulties faced by Anne.

Rosie is also enjoying being part of Anne’s life and feels that as their relationship develops she will be able to offer more practical support, as well as continuing to be someone Rosie can talk to.

Anne decided she no longer wished to be in an advocacy partnership in February 2014.  She felt she didn’t need the support anymore.  Both Anne & Rosie enjoyed getting to know one another and felt that they had learned something from the experience.

“I enjoy connecting with her, and I have found her very interesting on her past life and her family history”.  Rosie

Jennifer and Susan

Jennifer and Susan were introduced in September 2014.  Jennifer lives in a supported accommodation which she shares with other people.  She is very happy in her home and has lots of friends where she lives.  Jennifer can be quite shy with new people and can find it a bit difficutl to express herself.  Jennifer felt she would benefit from having an independent person to connect with socially and to help her to speak up.

Susan is a similar age to Jennifer and lives in a small village near Jennifer.  They both have a shared interest in football, as well as being closely connected with the town in which Jennifer lives.  They have been spending time getting to know one another by exploring their shared interests.  For example, they recently attended a football match in a nearby city:  Jennifer had never been to a big game before and enjoyed the experience, although she did find it a bit overwhelming, and Susan was about to support her with this.  Jennifer feel she can open up to Susan and has been confiding in her about her thoughts and feelings.  Susan recently supported Jennifer at her review, which made Jennifer feel more confident in expressing her thoughts.  They both really enjoy one another's company, and Jennifer feels a bit more confident having someone who is there just for her.

     

“I was really keen to give something back to the local community and thought this would be a great way to do something.  I look forward to my regular catch ups with Jennifer, sharing an interest in football and the same music really helps.  I have enjoyed building a friendship with Jennifer, and look forward to being there for her for many years to come.”

    Susan (Citizen Adovcate)        

 

     “The best thing about Susan is that she is easy to talk to and she is my friend.”
   Jennifer (Advocacy Partner)  

 

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