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What John has to say about volunteering

I retired in November 2019, and I wasn’t just going to sit in the house doing nothing, that would have driven me mad! We moved into our house 5 years ago and we have done everything that we needed to do to it. I was discussing this with a friend of mine who recommended Volunteer Link Up.

When I found out what VLU needed, the driving was the most appropriate to me. Sometimes I do three drives in a week, sometimes none for two weeks. I drive whenever I’m needed. It depends what’s on the books. I’m happy to do the ‘oddball’ drives. The ones that are out in the sticks; this doesn’t bother me. I scoop people up from the Burford area and round to Bampton. Clients are mostly travelling to the same place – either Witney or into Oxford to one of the hospitals.

Volunteering gets me out of the house, and out from under my wife’s feet! On a day-to-day basis you see people getting the benefit of it. And I get a general feeling of wellbeing. I’m ex-military and ex-MoD so my whole adult life I’ve been in service of one type or another, this is just another type. I enjoy it.

If clients want to chat I’m quite happy to talk to them, some are quieter but that’s fine. The car’s a safe place to talk if you want to. Quite a lot of my clients are are happy to chat which is fine. It’s a sign how comfortable they feel. One lady asked me to come in whilst her specialist was explaining things to her. She’s an ex-military lady so we already had a bond there. Although she writes everything down and had the questions she wanted to ask written down she wanted to make sure she didn’t miss anything. On the way home we discussed exactly what was said at the meeting, so it was reinforced in her mind. The fact that she felt comfortable enough to do that is good.

What I get from volunteer driving is a feeling of doing a good job, which, when you’ve been in the kind of work I’ve been in in the past, a thank you is a nice thing to get and, in all honesty, that’s all I need. Some clients are quiet, some are chatty, that’s fine with me. I’m an easy-going person and feel I fit into this very nicely. VLU always gives me plenty of notice and they also know if they phone me up on short notice I’ll either say yes or no and if it’s at all practical I’ll do it. I think Volunteer Link Up sees me as a safe pair of hands.

Customers like the VLU service – you see the same people returning to use it. The service itself is quite impressive in the span of its work. It is the classic unsung hero, working away getting all this done!