Volunteer: Lindy Gregory Wildsmith
What team do you volunteer with? Message Line and Phone Friends
Describe your usual day as a volunteer: From 9am to 1pm we respond to recorded telephone messages from isolated residents asking for assistance, typically with shopping. The message line is specifically for the over seventies, the vulnerable, those who are self-isolating or shielding who do not have access to the internet or do not have friends or family who can help them out. We phone them back, fill out a shopping list which we then pass on to the shopping team. There are requests from family members living away, worrying about their loved ones, or a person concerned for a neighbour living alone and needing help of some kind. People have all kinds of requests and if we cannot help directly, we point them in the right direction. I also keep an eye on incoming emails enquiring about the kind of help available in the community, for people coming out of hospital, new arrivals in the area, issues with shopping and many other things. I then follow them up where possible or pass them on to someone who can help. I also dedicate one afternoon a week to the Phone Friends scheme. I regularly phone three ladies who are living alone to make sure they are keeping well and cheerful. We chat for 20 –30 minutes about anything and everything.
What did you do before volunteering for Ross Good Neighbours? I am a food writer, writing cookery books, and am also a freelance teacher of English country and Italian regional cooking at the School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate Notts, and at the Denman WI Cookery School in Oxfordshire.
How has the lockdown affected what you used to do? Teaching has completely stopped but I am working in the background on a cookery book.
Will you be going back to your original role or don’t you know yet? Of course!
Any particular moment during your volunteer shifts that really touched you? I was very saddened to have to tell a lady who wanted help to walk in her garden that because of distancing and medical issues, as volunteers, we could not help her. I just hope she has since had help from one of our excellent care agencies. I quite understand the reasoning but walking in your garden in summer gives such pleasure and under normal circumstances would be so little to ask.
What else do you enjoy?: I have been walking and discovering new routes from our home of 30 years in Ross, painting wild flowers, as they come into season, cooking, gardening, reading, crosswords. I am bilingual, having lived in Italy for many years.
Tell us one thing that nobody knows about you: Getting 100% in a hygiene test! Never before or since have I been awarded 100% for anything…
What have you missed the most during lockdown? Family and friends
What will be the first thing you’ll do when lockdown completely lifts? Get my hair cut!