Heinz or Branston baked beans? My volunteering hinges on the right choice…

Today I’m feeling strangely nervous.

A handful of avid readers may remember that almost exactly a year to the day I pledged in a blog to fulfill a long-held desire to start volunteering. Twelve months later, that dream is finally becoming a reality.

I’ll admit, it’s taken this long because I’m lazy. Having overcome the first stumbling block of finding the right role, I then hit the second – the dreaded CRB check. Taking time off work and digging out all the required paraphernalia (the paper bit of my driving license – who knew where that was hiding? And a paper utility bill from the last three months – impossible if you’ve opted for online statements) was initially a challenge too far.

But finally, before the holidays and swept up in Christmas goodwill, I managed to drag my lazy behind to the local befriending charity and get signed up and checked out.

And so tonight I officially start – and I’m a bit scared. Ever since I received the phone call telling me of my task, I’ve been worried about not getting it right. Ridiculous, really, since I’m just dropping off some shopping to a elderly neighbour and staying for a cup of tea. But I think it may have been the organiser’s warnings that some ‘clients’ get particularly upset if the volunteer gets Branston baked beans instead of Heinz or a family-sized pack of toilet roll when only two rolls are necessary. I don’t want my good deed to backfire and cause unnecessary grief.

Yesterday I had to ring up for the shopping list. A few unanswered calls and a false start later (he said he was looking forward to seeing me, but forgot to give me the list, and when I politely said I needed the shopping list, he repeated he was looking forward to seeing me…), I now have to wander around after work in Waitrose (his preference) looking for prune juice, fig rolls and pickled onions (I know, I know, but it’s genuinely what he asked for). But it’s a small chore that will hopefully make a small difference.

A few people have expressed surprise at what I’ve signed up for, saying they’d be worried at getting too attached in case my new elderly friend suddenly died while I dropped off his loaf of bread.  I must confess I actually hadn’t thought about that, but I’m hoping it could be the start of a beautiful friendship, no matter how long it may last.

Also, I’m hoping this regular ten-minute shopping trip and occasional cup of tea will fill a hole I’ve been more and more aware of, particularly since the Olympics, of a need to help someone other than myself.

I’ll keep you posted on how I get on. Wish me luck…

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