Graham Harper: Change someone’s life for better

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DURING the summer many of us are looking forward to holiday and thinking of visiting friends and family, snoozing on sunny beaches or having adventurous times exploring or doing sports we love.

Many of us may also be worried about older or disabled relations, friends or neighbours who will be left without any support if we are not around to assist for a week or two. For many lonely people in our community this may be a situation they face all-year-round, not just the summer holiday season.

While everyone agrees it is vital to assist older people and the disabled to live safely and independently at home for as long as possible, stretched health and social care services are under increasing pressure.

Care and Repair Edinburgh is a charity which provides a range of practical services and advice to assist older and disabled people in Edinburgh to remain in their own homes. These include a trusted volunteer handyperson service, a home-from-hospital adaptation service, small repairs and home improvements, as well as safe referrals to vetted professional tradespeople.

Apart from our trusted tradespeople, the majority of the small jobs are done by volunteers – a team of people from all ages and backgrounds, working, not working, retired, who help because they know they can change lives – even in their lunch break. However much, or little, spare time people have, it makes such a difference to an older person to have the support. By carrying out odd jobs, DIY or even something as simple as changing a light bulb, being a volunteer can enable older people to stay at home, retain independence and know they have help at hand.

That’s why we’re now looking for more volunteers with passion and skills to help – whether through DIY or helping older people stay connected with the outside world, through PCs, smartphones or digital TVs. Many older people are lonely and if you enjoy a chat and a cup of tea while you help them, so much the better.

We are looking to expand our services so we can assist more people. To do this, we need more volunteers and to spread the word about the service we offer. This means that while you are on your summer holiday, you know that someone can assist if your elderly or disabled relations, friends or family need some assistance while you are away.

Or perhaps, while we are all busy, you could spare some time to assist by volunteering too.

Being a volunteer with Care and Repair means that you are matched up to jobs in your local area so you will not have to travel far – and we pay travel and other expenses.

Last year, our handyperson volunteers carried out 1169 jobs for vulnerable people in Edinburgh, but there’s so much more that can be achieved. Changing a life really can be as easy as changing a light bulb.

Graham Harper is CEO of Care and Repair Edinburgh