Monday, November 7, 2016, 12:13
Pei Li
"I have been working as a Volunteer Connector since March 2016; my last day is actually 21st of September 2016 as I am going away at the end of September . I will be available when I return only for ocaasional 'ambassadorial' volunteering. I wanted to join Camden Community Connectors as I wanted to engage with my community. I also wanted to understand more about the services and sources of support for isolated older people.

I have been working with Sarah (Area Coordinator for Kentish Town) for the past 7 months. Sarah has supported me in regularly visiting an older person who has been registered blind for the past 23 years and who had become more isolated over the past few years due to pain and mobility issues. However, he didn't want to connect with activities and other people unless they were intellectually stimulating or helped him to exercise. Just before he was referred to the service, he had a procedure to improve his mobility but needed to recuperate from this and rebuild his confidence in getting out and about. I was placed with him by Sarah to help him to identify activities of interest, to research joining these activities and to help him plan the next steps; escorting him if necessary. Some activities of interest we identified were happening at venues that he used to go to confidently alone. My role was therefore to re-familiarise him with these activities (planning what events were of interest, how to get to the venue, accessibility once there, support provided for disabled customers etc), with a view to him being able to do these things alone long term.

This older person has gained confidence in going out in general through my work with him. He feels confident in accessing the activities independently and is in touch with the activities of cultural venues that he hasn't attended in years (the Southbank Centre amongst others). It has raised his aspirations of what he is actually able to do especially after the double issue of immobility and blindness. He plans to enroll in the University of the Third Age at the end of this month. This will provide him with regular social and intellectual stimulation as he will be with his peers who are interested in the same subjects: Chinese and philosophy sessions. He already attends various council consultative meetings and is happy to be an ambassador volunteer and help us to promote Camden Community Connectors in any way that he can....

I have enjoyed getting a different perspective on life from the older person I was placed with. He and I also had lots in common (both interested in Taoism ) and I used this common ground to build our relationship and to help him evaluate his options. It was good to have the regular commitment of meeting each week. I know that without a regular visit to progress our research and actions, we may not have reached our goals. Younger generations rely on their mobiles and the internet to plan things at very short notice and working for Camden Community Connectors has helped me to establish how to relate better to different generations. I have learnt a lot about arranging outings with older people with a disability, specifically a visual impairment. I have grown my understanding about support, activities and services for older people and the way that they are inter-related when supporting an older person based on their needs."

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