Prior to volunteering at Westbank, Ros had worked for several years at British Telecoms. After she was made redundant in 2010 Ros took a six-month break, then later took on part-time work as a cleaner. In 2012, after dealing with some personal health issues and undergoing treatment, Ros's mother suffered a severe stroke. Consequently, her mother spent 12 months in a nursing home before passing away in 2013. With more available free time, Ros felt it was important to give back in some kind of way and use her time meaningfully.

Volunteering Roles

Initially, Ros volunteered for Westbank's Neighbourhood Friends service as a befriender. Her role involved supporting elderly individuals, often those living alone, without nearby friends or family support, or for those whose family members faced constraints in meeting their needs. Ros met them on a weekly or fortnightly basis and provided support such as taking them shopping or supporting them to attend their diabetic blood tests or other medical appointments.

Ros says of one of her befriendees;

‘She was such a sweet, funny lady…you know, you get so much out of these relationships. We used to get on so well. She had family locally but lived alone and I used to meet her weekly, take her shopping and take her for her hospital appointments. I must have been going to see her for over two years. Sadly, she became ill, and she passed away…at her funeral, her family were so appreciative of everything I’d done for her’.

Another of her roles was to support a local lady - who had lost confidence following a fall - to use the buses again. Ros says ‘I’d go to her house; we’d get on the bus and go into town and I’d have a pootle around with her. I’d also go and take her to her hospital appointments as her family all worked full time and weren’t easily able to help.’

During the pandemic, Ros and her husband also helped to deliver hot meals, cooked at Westbank, plus prescriptions and shopping to the local community. 

Current role

After stepping back from befriending, in 2021/2022 Coffee on the Corner opened and Ros thought she’d like to give something different a try.

‘I’ve never worked in a café before, never operated a till or made a barista coffee. To start with the volunteers were only able to clear the tables and wash up but then when the new manager came in, she encouraged the volunteers to do more, including the organisation of the cafe, the cooking and the coffees which I really enjoy.’ 

Why volunteer?

Ros says ‘I’ve always volunteered, on the local playgroup committee, as the chairman of the PTA and I’ve been involved in running the local netball league. You get to know so many people – you end up getting involved with different things, such as applying for a grant from Sport England, which I would never have done if I wasn’t volunteering.’

‘I enjoy working in the café, I enjoy the contact I have with other people. I’ve lived in the village a long time, so I know quite a lot of people, there’s quite a lot of elderly folk who come in and it’s nice to see them and make sure they’re all right. My Mum had been very independent before she had her stroke, [so I thought that] it would be nice to help an elderly person who didn’t have the family support that a lot of people have. I enjoy talking to older people. There’s a lady who comes into the café who’s 100 years old. She is fascinating to talk to. There are other older people who come into the café who don’t have any family and we would be the ones to know something was wrong. It’s nice to know we can help.’

‘[By volunteering] you get a lot back…the fact that you can see that you’ve helped someone. I enjoy it, I’m a sociable person. Especially if you’re retired, it would be easy to stay in your four walls. If you volunteer for something it gives you different interests, you meet different people, it takes you in a direction that you wouldn’t have thought you’d go in. I would never have thought I’d not be working and instead volunteering in a café and knowing the difference between a latte and a flat white! I’d never have thought that.’

Thank you Ros, for all your time and dedication to volunteering for Westbank over the last 11 years.

To find out more about volunteering at Westbank, or to apply to volunteer, please click here