“I love volunteering because of the feeling that I have achieved something and made some people’s lives better. I’d hate to be lonely so I do get myself involved in lots of things and I think it helps that I am a confident person. If I had a magic wand I would identify every single person who is lonely so that we could reach out to them – there are hundreds of lonely people we don’t know about and that makes me sad.”
Angie has led a busy life working in the army, as a Police Officer, Security Training Co-ordinator for a leading supermarket, an actress and a holiday representative. She now volunteers with the Brightlife Drop in at the Chatterbox Café in Winsford. Having had such diverse experiences in her life helps her to keep the customers entertained.
Angie explained that she found out about Brightlife through an advertisement in the local paper and thought that it looked interesting. She was amazed that Brightlife was talking about loneliness in people aged 50 plus, having always considered loneliness to be something that only affected people in much later life. She explained that she has since met a lot of people in their 50’s who have been affected by it and is pleased to be able to make a difference to their lives.
Through her diverse career, Angie has built up a lot of confidence in meeting new people and being able to approach a room full of strangers and start a conversation but she realises not everyone is able to do this.
“I’d hate to be lonely so I do work hard not to be by getting myself involved in lots of things. A lot of people I volunteer with don’t go out at night, they sit in stuck with the TV. They don’t know how to use the internet so they have no way of communicating with the outside world. To me that is loneliness and if we can help by organising different social things, that really helps an awful lot. I often encourage people to ask about and get involved in things that interest them – that helps build their confidence through spending time with other people.”
Through volunteering Angie gets a great sense of satisfaction that she has made some people’s lives better. She also acknowledges that they make a difference to her too and she looks forward to her time with the Brightlife group. She is keen for the new Minister for Loneliness to come out into the community and see the great work that is being done by people like her. Through better communications to let people know what is available to them and more funding to organise events, Angie believes the number of people feeling lonely could be reduced.
Asked how she feels to be recognised by Brightlife as an amazing woman, Angie said: “I don’t feel that amazing because everything I have done I have enjoyed doing! I have led a very busy life, an amazing life really – from being in the army, the police, my time with Tesco, then a holiday rep which was kind of like being a police officer in many ways! I have met some fantastic people and even now in later life, I am loving what I am doing and having the opportunity to meet more new people all of the time. It’s what keeps me going.”
Interview by Kate Cousens in celebration of International Women’s Day 2018