Christine, 74, began volunteering for the Good Neighbours Scheme at Peterborough Citadel Salvation Army after the passing of her husband, Trevor, in 2006.
A friend persuaded Christine to begin volunteering for the scheme. She said: "Life looked very, very bleak. When anyone spoke to me, I would cry, so I didn’t want to go anywhere. It reached the point when I would phone my daughter to ask her to bring any shopping for me. I didn’t want to meet people. My friend kept knocking on my door [to take me out, and then to get me to volunteer at The Salvation Army] and I was starting to get really, really annoyed with her, but didn’t want to upset her so gave in as I wanted a quiet life!"
Christine began volunteering at the Young At Heart day centre which runs as part of the Good Neighbours scheme – she began helping with lunches and also began escorting people to and from their homes on the minibus to the centre.
The Good Neighbours Scheme at Peterborough Citadel aims to reach out to the most vulnerable older people in the community – aiming to engage with their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. It offers home visits, telephone befriending calls, a luncheon club, Young At Heart day centre, a community support team which gives advice on a range of issues from services to housing and benefits, as well as garden maintenance.
Christine believes being a volunteer for the scheme has helped her as much as it’s helped those she serves.
She said: “I can’t say any more than The Salvation Army has given me my life back. I would’ve sat and festered at home, got older and older with no life. Now I have an interest. [Although the people I serve] are clients, they are really all like friends and I know them individually. In work, I class them as my friends and I think they class me as their friend too. Because I’ve been doing it so long, I know their individual needs as they’re all different.
“We do interesting things out and about, too. Sometimes I escort; sometimes I’m a wheelchair-pusher, and do whatever is needed.”