Are you a senior looking for chance to make a difference in someone’s life? The Hope Seniors Peer Support Group may offer you that fulfilling opportunity, just through listening, understanding, and offering your emotional support to a fellow senior.
Peer supporting is not about doing for another senior, but about enabling another independent senior to continue to do for themselves.
“One of our volunteers visits with a lady in a wheelchair – appointments are set up between the volunteer and the senior – regular visits are made. A friendship develops and the senior looks forward to the regular visits of the volunteer,” says program coordinator, Pam Wilson.
Many of the senior clients of the Peer Support Group “have families, but they do not live in the area and are therefore not regular visitors. Some have no family,” adds Wilson.
Training sessions to become a peer support volunteer are starting shortly and more volunteers are needed, says Wilson.
Hope Seniors Peer Support trained their first volunteers last year. Presently all volunteers have clients who come to us through various organizations including the Fraser Health Authority, or referred by doctors, friends, family, their next door neighbour or by referring themselves, says Wilson.
And volunteers too come from all walks of life but they all have a desire to help fellow seniors not to be ”lonely, depressed, isolated, in need of assistance, and to enjoy a visit from a fellow senior.”
“We do not always get a lot of men to volunteer, but we do have one presently and he is visiting a senior who is not able to get out and about very often – a relationship was struck right away and the volunteer is now welcome to visit anytime…” adds Wilson.
Full training to be a peer support worker takes 18 sessions, with volunteer visitor training only the first eight of those sessions. Topics include listening skills, communications, problem solving, anger management, goal setting, self-esteem, and caring for the caregiver.
The course is free thanks in part to sponsorship by Envision Financial,
All volunteers are required to have a police check and sign a confidentiality commitment.
Other mini-workshop training opportunities are also offered as part of the program.
If you can spare an hour a week or more to help a fellow senior remain independent call Ingrid at 604-750-0517 or drop by the their shared offices at 388B Wallace Avenue at 10 a.m. on Thursdays.