‘’I was ready to die – but Rebecca brought the whole world back to me’

Kathy Malcolm and Rebecca OwenBLOGFor Kathy, it seemed like things would never get better again.

She had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Her kidney failure, due to diabetes, meant dialysis treatment three times a week. She was slowly going blind. And to cap it all, she could no longer maintain her lovely big home.

The 64-year-old, from Llandudno, recalled: “I was at my lowest point – I was basically ready to die.”

Transforming effect

But cases such as Kathy’s are exactly what our support at home volunteers specialise in. And they work hard to ensure people know they have someone they can really count on.

Kathy had been referred to the British Red Cross by a social worker who recognised she was in real trouble. Within days, volunteer Rebecca Owen turned up on the pensioner’s doorstep. It was to have a transformative effect.

Looking back, Kathy said: “I wouldn’t be here today without Rebecca. She brought the whole world back to me.”

Cheering company

Rebecca started making weekly visits to enjoy tea and biscuits with Kathy, and talk through her ongoing difficulties.

Kathy said: “The visits gave me something to concentrate on – I used to wait for them with anticipation.

Kathy-Malcolm-and-Rebecca-O“I realise now that I needed someone to talk to. At first, I just cried and cried, and all I talked about was dying and putting things in order.

“But Rebecca was always so positive and would say: ‘I’ll come again next week, so we’ll talk more then’. It gave me something to look forward to.”

Constant support

When Rebecca first started calling round, Kathy lived in a large four-storey house that she was struggling to maintain due to her failing eyesight. She was also nervous about an upcoming eye operation.

Kathy remembered: “I was very low, but Rebecca kept turning up week after week and was such a help. She even came by a few days after my eye operation, which was a revelation.

“I realised that, for the first time, I could see her properly – but at first I just acted as normal and didn’t say anything. She helped me down the steps into my garden, and we had a coffee and chat as usual.

“Then after about ten minutes, I suddenly said: ‘That’s a lovely colour you’re wearing today, Rebecca’. Her face was a picture! We had a real laugh.”

Bright garden

Finally, the time came for Kathy to move into a more manageable small flat in Llandudno – and once more Rebecca was there to help out.

In the new place, Kathy’s lounge looks out over a small patio area that she’s transformed into a beautiful garden full of bright colours.

Kathy-MalcolmBLOG3She said: “My eyesight is beginning to deteriorate again, so I want to buy more bright, scented roses for the garden. I can still see bright things and want to get the garden perfect.”

She added: “I do miss my old house but, thanks to Rebecca, I’m now making plans to improve my flat.”

Proud Rebecca

Even Rebecca has been taken aback by the scale of Kathy’s progress. She recalled: “When I think back to when I first met her, the transformation is amazing.”

She added: “Our original goals were to get Kathy to a better place emotionally, improve her eyesight and also consider moving to a more suitable place.

“We’ve accomplished all of those things and Kathy has done incredibly well throughout. I’m very proud of what she has achieved.”

‘So grateful’

With a new home and increased confidence, Kathy has finally learned to relish life once again.

She said: “I can’t put into words how grateful I am to Rebecca and the Red Cross. Before I met her, I felt that I couldn’t go on.

“I was ready to just pack it all in, but she made me see there are reasons to carry on.”

Become a support at home volunteer.

Learn first aid: see the world!

Lauren-Nicol-2-600x337pxLauren signed up to learn first aid in her home city of Glasgow – which led to her helping people across the globe.

When Lauren Nicol went to a local first aid course, she had nothing more ambitious in mind than learning some useful life-saving tips.

She recalled: “I wanted to learn about first aid, and saw in a newspaper that the British Red Cross offered free training if you became a volunteer – so I signed up.”


How your shopping trolley can help struggling families

FareShare-BLOGOur volunteers are currently collecting food donations at Tesco stores to support families hit by food poverty – and you can do your bit to help.

If you find yourself shopping at Tesco between now and Saturday, you could do someone a very good turn by throwing a couple of extra items in your basket.

A UK-wide food collection drive has just launched today, and our volunteers are on hand in many stores to accept non-perishable items. These include tinned goods, pasta, rice, tea, coffee, cereal and UHT milk. More

Coping as a full-time carer

Angela Brown, who used the Red Cross carers' service, smiles in a garden with a cup of teaDuring Carers’ Week, Angela Brown discusses the challenges of being a carer and explains how her local Red Cross service supported her when she needed it most.

Angela Brown remembers the moment she knew something was wrong. In 2005 she was sitting in the garden with her husband John. He turned to her and asked when his mother was coming home. His mother had been dead for 30 years.

John was soon diagnosed with dementia. More

A student’s story: why I volunteer with refugees

Anna refugee volunteerEvery year, we support thousands of refugees and asylum seekers all over the country. Anna Bromwich, a student, tells us why she volunteers with this particular group – and how there is more to her role than meets the eye…

I volunteer for quite a few reasons. I volunteer to complement my studies. I volunteer so I don’t sit in front of a computer all day!

But I also volunteer because I want to help refugees and asylum seekers. More

Red Cross nurses recall D-Day landings

On the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings we take a look back to the mission and the aftermath during the Second World War with two former Red Cross nurses (VADs).

 An eventful 70 years have passed since Judy Stokes first signed up to be a Red Cross volunteer. Perhaps none more so than her first summer as a 19-year-old Red Cross nurse (VAD) in 1944 when the D-Day landings changed the course of the Second World War.

“I’ll never forget that wonderful announcement [of a second front],” said Judy. “It was a frenzy of excitement. The only thing like it was when the war had ended, and there was such, such happiness.”

 Judy Stokes in her Red Cross nurse uniform