Sometimes, the most rewarding relationships begin in the strangest places.
When Yvonne Croft first came across the British Red Cross, she was recovering from a broken ankle at Leeds General Infirmary.
Doctors had judged her fit to leave hospital, but she was still a bit uncertain on her feet.
And because she lives alone and has steps leading up to her flat, hospital staff were very concerned about her returning home alone.
Happy to help
Still, help was just around the corner.
The 54-year-old recalled: “The Red Cross came along to the ward and told me their mobility aids service would be happy to help.”
The Red Cross offered to provide an auto-lift so Yvonne would be able to use the toilet at home.
She added: “They also loaned me a wheelchair, and a special seat for the kitchen so I could cook without standing up.”
Once back at home, Jane Morrison – a Red Cross support at home worker – called round. Though when she first showed up, Yvonne was initially a wee bit apprehensive.
She said: “I’m a very independent person and at first thought: ‘Oh god, I don’t want someone coming into my home telling me what to do’. But I hit it off with Jane straight away.”
She added: “I live on my own and so really looked forward to Jane’s company.
“We talked about children, marriage, anything and everything. And I never felt judged. Really, she was outstanding.”
Besides Jane, a small army of Red Cross volunteers turned up during the weeks of Yvonne’s recovery to help out in all kinds of ways.
Some took her shopping, and did the vacuuming and housework. Others drove her to hospital appointments.
One volunteer even came round to give her relaxing hand and arm massages. At every stage of her recovery, Yvonne knew she had people to depend on.
Give something back
Looking back, Yvonne said: “The emotional support has been as important as the practical help. My injury wasn’t life-threatening, by any means, but it did put my life on hold.”
Now, Yvonne is excited about signing up as a Red Cross volunteer so she can start helping others.
She said: “As soon as I met the lovely Red Cross people who came to support me, I felt that this was something I really wanted to do.”
This blog is the seventh instalment in an ongoing series: Tackling the social care crisis.
Read the other instalments: Why people are scared of growing older, Five reasons why the NHS needs the Red Cross, Tale of two pensioners, Volunteering landed me a job, How a former patient became a volunteer and Why prevention really is better than cure.
Home alone: why pensioners need our help following a hospital stay.
Need a wheelchair? Why the Red Cross may be your best chance of getting one.
Could you help someone in need? Become a Red Cross volunteer.