A North Devon cancer patient has talked about the difference volunteers have made as she underwent treatment during the coronavirus lockdown.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant Jennifer Brierley was left without face to face contact with her family for months.
The only time she stepped out of her Northam bungalow was for the fortnightly visit to North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) where she receives treatment.
Jennifer’s ability to keep strong when separated from her daughters and family was down to the incredible hospital nurses and Northam volunteer Tina Tucker, who has delivered prescriptions and been there for vital chats and support.
Tina is a core volunteer through TTVS – Torridge’s Council for Voluntary Service, which is based in Bideford.
Jennifer has no doubt that she would have been asking for help from already stretched services if Tina hadn’t stepped in when she did.
“What Tina and other volunteers have done is incredible,” said Jennifer.
“For so many years I felt community spirit had gone but what Covid-19 has proved is it’s still alive and well and that’s really reassuring.
“It still concerns me that someone might be in need and doesn’t make that call but it is really important that they do.
“I was practically on my knees to figure out what I was going to do as I need regular prescriptions and when Tina turned up it was like someone had answered my prayers.”
Covid not only marooned Jennifer but also the people close to her who would normally help, so it was a huge relief when Tina made her first visit.
Jennifer added: “Its good to have someone like Tina in your corner. She’s never in a rush and she always has time to chat.
People like me try to hold on to as much independence as possible. If you haven’t got your independence you feel like giving up but what volunteers do is give independence back and that’s priceless.”
Jennifer attends the Seamoor Unit at NDDH every other week. She can’t praise the nursing staff enough.
“People need to know how absolutely wonderful the Seamoor is,” she said.
“The nurses never stand still but have a smile on their face all the time. I don’t know how they do it. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay the nurses for what they do.”
For more information about volunteering in Torridge, visit the TTVS website.