This week is volunteer’s week. Research from the New Economics Foundation has shown that volunteering contributes to our wellbeing along with enriching the lives of the people we are helping. In our recent wellbeing workshops we asked attendees what made them feel good and one of the top responses was ‘doing something to help someone else’. This could be as simple as providing a friendly smile to a passer-by, opening a door for someone struggling with heavy bags, congratulating a colleague on a job well done right through to volunteering time to help others in their time of need.
Here at Pharmacist Support we have a dedicated team of volunteers who staff our Listening Friends and Home visiting schemes. The Listening Friend volunteer’s (all experienced pharmacists themselves) field calls from people of varying ages and backgrounds dealing with a range of issues. Pharmacy can be a lonely profession with unique demands and problems. The Listening Friends telephone helpline provides callers with the opportunity to talk anonymously and in confidence about any stresses they are facing in their work or home life. This might, for example, be stress caused by workplace pressure, bullying, ill health, financial worries, bereavement or anxiety about exams.
We asked some of our Listening Friends about their involvement in the scheme:
“I get the feeling that I have helped someone. I get to utilise some of my skills in a way that at work you just don’t seem to have enough time to do i.e. listen. The really brilliant bit about this scheme for me is that the other person doesn’t know me. It’s completely anonymous – a fantastic idea! It’s not often that you can truly help someone without them trying to do something back for you or feeling indebted to you.”
“I think the Listening Friends service is important because sometimes in times of trouble it is easier to talk to an anonymous stranger, especially one who works in the world of pharmacy with its problems and constraints.”
“Clients know that we will not judge them but we will give them the space and time to tell their story. We don’t make the decisions for them but we allow them to see their way and hopefully make the decision making progress clearer and easier.”
Our Home Visiting service supports the work of our grants officer and provides annual beneficiaries (generally widows/widowers, those retired from the profession or those suffering from long term health conditions) with a friendly face, someone to listen to their concerns, assist with the completion of any relevant forms and provide further assistance where necessary. Some of our Home Visitors tell us what they get out of their involvement with the scheme:
“I see how pharmacists and their dependents benefit and are relieved of worry and made happier by the help that Pharmacist Support gives them”
“A big plus is how much I have learned about the stresses that people struggle with and how they learn to deal with them”
Our volunteers are all current or retired pharmacists and because of this shared professional background they are uniquely able to understand the specific pressures affecting pharmacists and their families.
For further info on these schemes click here, or call our information and enquiry line on 0808 168 2233. To access our confidential Listening Friends service call: 0808 168 5133.