After living in Italy for many years, Doreen Osmond didn’t waste time in getting involved when she returned to Eastbourne.

“I wanted to give something back to the community in my spare time. And meet some new people, too,” she said.

Doreen approached East Sussex-based charity Association of Carers to learn about becoming a Befriending with Respite Volunteer. Feeling daunted at the thought of volunteering with someone with extra support needs, Doreen’s confidence soared after she attended an induction training day and was matched with Fausto and his wife and carer, Immacolata.

“Association of Carers reassured me that if I felt it wasn’t the best match I could be re-matched elsewhere. As it happened, Fausto and Immacolata were so warm, friendly and welcoming that I immediately felt at ease.”

Fausto had a stroke, which affected his speech and mobility. Doreen’s role is to give Immacolata a break by spending three hours a week with Fausto. “We have played games, watched TV and have been able to build up a good relationship, despite Fausto being unable to speak.”

In the ten months since Doreen has served in her volunteering role, she’s formed new friendships and gained a sense of personal satisfaction from knowing she is helping.

“It has developed into a natural friendship where it feels more like I am visiting an Aunt and Uncle for a weekly chat and coffee,” Doreen says. “I cannot believe I have found a volunteering role where the people I am supporting have become like family.”

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with Association of Carers, please contact Nadia Bodle, Volunteer Coordinator, on 0300 330 9498. To learn more about other local volunteering opportunities, visit Volunteer Centre East Sussex