“I wouldn’t have cared if I lived or died,” said Ken, 92.
Ken was heartbroken when his wife Ann died after over 60 years of marriage.
Sadly, Ann had developed dementia and Ken was caring for her at home. But in January, Ken was in a car accident and had to spend several months in hospital.
Injuries to his neck and ankle meant he couldn’t walk or move around as well as he used to.
Then, while he was in hospital, Ann passed away. Ken returned alone to the home they once shared.
“It was a very, very sad time,” he said. “I couldn’t see the point.”
“But that was when I met this bright chap, Terry.”
Practical help at home from a Red Cross volunteer
Terry, 65, volunteers with the British Red Cross support at home service.
Our volunteers help people who may need extra support after leaving hospital. The volunteer visits for up to six weeks and offers both company and practical help.
“Terry helped me cope with losing Ann,” Ken said.
“I felt I could talk to him about how I was feeling, because Terry was Terry. He has a way with him that makes you feel wanted.
“Because he was outside the family, it was easier for me to be open with him.
“You couldn’t hope for better. He made life seem worth living again.”
During his visits, Terry helped Ken do things around the house, as well as offering companionship.
“He did anything and everything I asked,” said Ken. “Every time he came over, he cleaned the house without me asking him.
“I am a very independent person – I like to cook my own dinners and get myself to bed – but at the time I was so grateful for the extra help.”
“An extremely rewarding role”
Terry, who started volunteering when he retired, is one of thousands of Red Cross volunteers who help connect people to services in their communities.
“Our job is to leave people in a better place than when we started,” Terry said.
Mark Bradley, who manages the Red Cross support at home service in the hospital that treated Ken, said that volunteers are at its heart.
“Every day they help vulnerable people cope with the difficulties of returning home from hospital, and help them get some independence back.”
“It is an extremely rewarding role,” Terry added. “There are so many things we can do that make a big difference to people.”
Terry shared that he got quite emotionally attached to Ken during the six weeks of visits.
“He is such a kind, welcoming and grateful man,” Terry said.
“I got to know him very well. We built up such a good emotional rapport.
“Although Ken had support from family and the local church community, he needed some emotional support as he adjusted to life without his wife, as well as help with cleaning because of his loss of mobility.”
Help people connect with their community
Through the Red Cross, people across the UK can reach out to others in their communities. Simple acts of kindness can help offer so much, as Terry did with Ken.
You can also donate to support our crucial work. Funds will go towards helping people coming home from hospital, or who feel lonely, or wherever the need is greatest.
And why not also send a Christmas card to someone in your community who may be feeling alone during this festive season? Just check our list of participating charity shops to take part.
Whatever you do, you’ll be helping someone to feel connected again.
“When it was time to stop seeing Ken on a regular basis, we both had tears in our eyes,” Terry said.
“It has been brilliant to see the progress he has made.”