A MELKSHAM town councillor is encouraging local people to volunteer, following her own positive experience that has led to a ‘fantastic friendship’ with a local woman.
Saffi Rabey volunteered for the Melksham Community Support Scheme in the Covid-19 lockdowns, collecting prescriptions and shopping for isolated and vulnerable people. She met Olive in 2020.
Saffi said, “A telephone call was made to Melksham Community Support from an occupational therapist, asking for a volunteer to meet with Olive, who had lost confidence due to Covid-19 restrictions and the enforced isolation. Olive needed support with getting out of the house again.
“On the 1st August we met and walked down to the playground by her house. Then we built it up and when the restrictions started to ease, we came into town and would do a bit of shopping, then we’d go into Costa and get a takeaway and go and sit on a bench in the churchyard. Now, two years later, we still meet every Saturday and Sunday if we can. We have formed a fantastic friendship.”
Olive said, “Back in 2020, the first time I walked out the front of my house to go for a walk, I turned to move and just froze. I cannot tell you why that happened. I have always been a happy-go-lucky type of person but on that day, something in my mind stopped working. Nobody could say what was wrong. Now, things have greatly improved.
“Saffi has helped me immensely, I don’t have family who live in Melksham or nearby. Although they have never met her, they think the world of Saffi.
“We have become such good friends. Although I have four children, they haven’t had children themselves, so I don’t have grandchildren; I would consider Saffi as one of my granddaughters.”
Advocating the benefits of volunteering, Saffi said, “Many young people write off volunteering with the older generation because they think they might not have anything in common, but when you actually get to know them, valuable friendships can form.
“For me, it was one of the best things to have come out of the pandemic, a new friend for life. It shows that no matter the generation, friendships can happen and I would encourage anyone of any age to get involved in your community and who knows what journey it will take you on.
“I wouldn’t be a councillor now if it wasn’t for the pandemic and the volunteering I did. My involvement with Melksham has totally changed because of it.”
Lots of organisations in Melksham are seeking volunteers. You can find out more on the Melksham News Facebook page at https://bit.ly/3iB6V56