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Peter’s story

Peter’s story

“Volunteering has brought me out of my shell and given me confidence”

Peter Bathgate, 62, of Edinburgh, decided to become a volunteer while recovering from knee surgery.

His new role helping others has helped boost his own confidence and bring him out of his shell.

Struck a chord

I had a knee replacement operation after a lifetime of being sporty and standing every working day for eight hours in my job as a printer.

During my recovery in 2017, I got in touch with Volunteer Edinburgh who put me in touch with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.

What the people at Volunteer Edinburgh said struck a chord with me. I was immediately impressed at the work the charity was doing and the help provided to service users.

I went through training with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, and they asked me to be a driver collecting service users, taking them to and from their support groups.

I’m not the most sociable or most outgoing person, particularly when I first meet new people, so I thought driving would suit me down to the ground.

At the first meeting, the co-ordinators explained they were doing a bit of filming and asked me to sit in with the group. And that was it.

I became not just a driver but part of the group, and I have been doing that ever since. I’ve met so many lovely people and it is always great fun.

Volunteering during lockdown

When the first lockdown came along, I volunteered to do shopping for some of our service users who had to shield or weren’t able to get out. For four months, I was either picking up a list and doing the whole shop or doing a click-and-collect from various supermarkets.

Then, when we went into a second lockdown, I moved on to making telephone calls and organising Zoom calls with a couple of people.

One chap wanted a chat every week. We both like football – he is a Rangers fan and I’m a Hibs fan, so we enjoy some good banter. Another chap who is a Hearts fan has now joined our chat. We have some good laughs about football. We’re all men of a similar age so we have a lot in common.

Brought me out of my shell

What I’ve enjoyed most is seeing people who have had a stroke start to improve. I only usually see them in the group for eight to 10 weeks, but I see their recovery in that time. It’s so great to see their enthusiasm and to see them recovering something of themselves.

“hese are people who have been in hospital or are perhaps stuck at home and getting out to the group once a week really changes things for them. I pick someone up in my car and we have a chance for a chat on the journey to and from the meeting.

I have the opportunity to get to know new people and can honestly say they have all been lovely. Then the cycle moves on, and I meet someone new.

That’s what I get out of it – meeting people and seeing their recovery. Knowing they get great stimulation and fun from the meetings is also a big part of volunteering for me.

I said before I’m not the type to start a conversation with strangers but now I quite enjoy it. Going to the meetings and volunteering as a driver has brought me out of my shell and given me confidence.

The co-ordinators have always encouraged me to do certain things that I might not have done on my own, and it’s been a great help to me.

People ask me what I do in my spare time and I tell them I volunteer for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and tell them it’s a great feeling to do something like that. I’ve encouraged other people to get involved.

People are leaving hospital feeling scared and alone. You can change that.

Your donation can help people do more than just survive – you can help them really live.


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