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Retired teacher says volunteering is something everyone should consider

Agnes MacKenzie, 68, lives in Forres, Moray. A retired teacher, she’s been a volunteer for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland's Community Support Services since 2013.

In her nine years as a volunteer with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Agnes MacKenzie has had a lot of different roles. But one constant remains: the rewarding feeling she gets from helping others.

The 68-year-old wanted to do something with her free time when she retired from her job as a primary teacher and moved to a new town. And when she was introduced to Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, it was a match made in heaven.

Fulfilling thing to do

Agnes, who lives in Forres, Moray, says: “I’ve done so many different jobs with CHSS over the years, but all have been equally rewarding. I get so much out of volunteering, it’s a very fulfilling thing to do.

“The very first role I had was supporting people who were going to a hydrotherapy pool. Then I started doing communication groups every fortnight, and they were fantastic to be involved in.

“When Covid-19 happened, the whole shape of things changed, but the interaction with clients is so important. We used games to help people with their language skills and learned as much from that as they did. It’s so beneficial for everyone.

“I made some great friends from those groups that I still meet up with.

“Then I started to do one-to-one, going to people’s homes to support them and sometimes offering respite for a carer. I’ve also done hospital support."

New ways to volunteer

“The pandemic changed things because we couldn’t obviously meet. I started doing support phone calls. I had a client that I used to do home visits with before the pandemic, so I just carried on but giving that support by phone and not face to face.”

While pandemic restrictions changed how the volunteer program worked, Agnes is still giving her time to support CHSS service users, joining them for coffee catch-ups and local walks that provide much-needed social time.

Of volunteering, she says: “I think it’s something everyone should consider. I did it because I’d moved to a new place and needed to make connections. I’ve made lasting friendships with other volunteers and feel I’m giving something important back to the community.

“There is nothing like personal communication to make you feel good, and volunteering is a wonderful way to do it.”

If you would like to find out more about becoming a volunteer with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, please visit:

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