Emma found that volunteering with older people gave her a sense of direction, purpose and fulfilment that she hadn’t felt in years. It wasn’t until she saw her two teenage children gaining their own independence that Emma realised she needed to change something. Despite being an active mum when her children were young, she had become more and more reclusive as they grew up. “Once they’d started high school, I barely left the house,” she admits.
But when her eldest turned 18, Emma found herself wondering where the last few years had gone.
“Suddenly realising my daughter was all grown up came as a real shock,” she says. “It really brought home to me how bleak my own future looked at that point.”
Emma decided to learn a new, practical skill, so signed up to do a computer course at Workzone in Winsford. She had planned to get into office work, but found it was the people she met on her course that left the biggest impression on her.
“There were some elderly people on my course with me, and I really loved their company and helping them out,” she says.
Spending time with her new, older friends inspired Emma to become a volunteer for Community Compass, a Brightlife-commissioned service that helps older people by connecting them with relevant activities and groups.
With additional volunteer training from Brightlife, Emma quickly gained confidence, and soon had an idea for her very own scheme in Winsford – a six-week Basic Computer Skills group for over-50s.
“A few of the older people I met through Community Compass said they wanted to learn computer skills, so I knew the demand was there,” she says. “I was a bit nervous at first, but having completed my Level 2 Computing, I was pretty sure that I knew enough to help them learn the basics.”
In addition to a weekly group, Emma set up one-to-one sessions for those who needed extra support. With her help, the older people were able to access a range of new opportunities.
“Sylvia wanted to look into her ancestry, so I helped her set up an email account and showed her how to use her new tablet,” says Emma. “George wanted to learn how to use Facebook and write emails and is now regularly in touch with his family in Chicago!”
Setting the computer group up made Emma realise that she wanted to make a career out of working with older people, so she successfully applied for a full time role working as a carer.
“Thanks to this experience I now have direction, focus and ambition for the first time in years,” she says. “I still volunteer for Community Compass and always will – I just love what they do for the community. Working with older people makes me feel needed, useful and valued. I look forward to seeing them week after week, and they make my soul feel brighter.”