My husband died after a long illness, and I had been his full time carer. It was very hard for both of us. When he died, I had to say, ‘where am I going now?’. I got involved at the Wednesday morning club at the Church of the Resurrection, organising the speakers for the club, and through that I found ACE. A lot of our people at the club don’t see very well, can’t hear very well. But they do need to know that somebody cares, and sees them for the people that they are. As you get older you can find yourself in a position where you think, ‘who am I useful to?’ We all need to feel that we matter, we’ve got a place in the world. We all need somebody to say, ‘You’re okay. You’re okay. I see you.’
And that’s where I felt ACE opened up things for me, when I met Mags and Vaida, because I could see that they cared. So when I came to ACE, and saw what was going on and what could be developed, It was exactly what I felt I needed, and the community needed. It’s letting people know that there is never, should never be a time when you don’t count. The more I got to know, the more I wanted to be involved. I started coming to the Thursday coffee morning group out in the garden and I felt at ease with Mags straight away. Too often, I’ve felt people don’t realise how important they are. And it’s lighting that spark that’s so important. So when Mags asked me about volunteering for ‘phone a friend’, I said yes. During the lockdowns, I was a voice on the phone, and both myself and my ‘phone friends’ got a lot out of that.
I think the most significant thing that ACE gives me is a sense of belonging. It’s knowing that there is a place for you in the world. Coming on Thursday, going for the walks on Monday morning, talking to people… and Vaida’s so good at making you feel you’re using your brain as well as your body, it’s interesting. It was something that made me feel, you know, I count! I could do some good things as well for people. Just tell me, show me, and I’ll do it. And that’s what ACE is doing for me. I think the most significant thing is making me feel I’ve got something to offer. That’s it.