Mandy and Nigel’s story

Mandy has been a Compassionate Neighbour to Nigel since 2023. They tell their story in hope of encouraging others to sign up.

Mandy and Nigel’s story

“Nigel often says, ‘I’ve struck gold finding you!’ and I feel that way too.”

Mandy is a Compassionate Neighbour supporting Nigel who has limited mobility due to his multiple health conditions.

At first Mandy was unsure if she would be able to commit to being a volunteer due to her busy life as an Executive Assistant at a private hospital, but she soon found that being a Compassionate Neighbour can be both flexible and rewarding.

Mandy says:

“I’ve always struggled with the idea of older people feeling sad or lonely. It’s something I think about a lot, especially around special holiday times such as Christmas. I initially thought about volunteering with one of the older people charities, but when I tried this route I didn’t hear back. I then googled other local volunteering opportunities and the Rennie Grove Peace Compassionate Neighbours scheme popped up.

“I must admit that I was very apprehensive at first. I was worried about getting attached to the person and I wondered how I would deal with the grief if that person died. I also have a very busy job and often have to work late at short notice, and I was conscious that I didn’t want to let anyone down.

“When I contacted the Rennie Grove Peace team, I was open about my concerns, but they encouraged me to come and find out more. I went ahead and attended the training in December 2023, which was fantastic. Not only did I meet some wonderful like for like people, I also got the chance to express my concerns with a Compassionate Neighbour who has supported various people over the years. The volunteer said that it is best to focus on how you are improving a person’s quality of life when they most need you. The team delivering the training also reassured me that my role could be flexible, and I would just need to develop a relationship that worked for both me and the person I was supporting. There is so much support there for you, if needed.

“A week after the training I was matched with Nigel and we had our introductory meeting at his home. Nigel and I instantly hit it off and ever since that first meeting I have met with him weekly, normally for around two hours.

“We tend to sit together in his living room and chat, and despite the age difference, we have loads in common. We both love country and western music and by my second visit we were singing together. We are also both obsessed with prison and police programmes on the TV! We are both very curious as to why people choose to make certain decisions in life and what their mindsets are, so we love a good debate! Nigel tells me stories of when he was younger and what he got up to, and we sometimes look through old photos, which I love.

“We often chat about Nigel’s week, where he has gone and who he has seen. Nigel’s mobility is limited due to his various conditions. Although he can walk around the house, he uses a mobility scooter when he goes out. He is a keen gardener (as am I), and although he finds it more of a challenge these days, he refuses to give up, and I admire his resilience and cheerful demeanour.

“Nigel also talks to me about end of life and how he feels about it. These are subjects he sometimes struggles to speak to his family and friends about. I think this really helps him process and come to terms with what is happening to him. He also knows that he can trust that our conversation is in confidence.

“Nigel is normally upbeat during our visits, but sometimes I know he gets sad. He often says that he looks forward to my visits all week. I think I help lift his mood as I am a positive and upbeat person. I love hearing his lovely, funny chuckle; we really do laugh and have fun together.

“I personally get a huge amount from my friendship with Nigel. For me, when I hear someone say, ‘You really make a difference to my life’ it makes it all worth it. I am lucky that he expresses his feelings towards me and his gratitude for our friendship. Over a month ago, Nigel gave me a thank you card with such beautiful words saying how much our friendship means to him. I was really touched by that, and the card is still on display! Nigel often says, ‘I’ve struck gold finding you!’ and I feel that way too – we were super lucky with our match, and we know it!

“For anyone considering becoming a Compassionate Neighbour – I would say ‘do it’! There is no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return.”

Nigel says:

“I live on my own and it can be very lonely. I am on oxygen all the time, and have limited mobility, which can be very isolating. I speak to my sister on the phone every night and my other sister comes to visit once a week, but I can go a whole week without seeing anyone else.

“I do sometimes go to courses at the hospice which is nice, and it was when I was doing the Living Well programme that one of the Rennie Grove Peace nurses asked me if I would like to have some companionship from a Compassionate Neighbour.

“I was sceptical at first as I didn’t know what the person would be like and whether we would have anything to talk about. But when Mandy arrived, we hit if off straight away and we talk about everything and anything.

“Mandy’s visits break up the week for me. It gives me a chance to relax and have a chat. When you’re living on your own you don’t get the opportunity to do that very often.

“It is sometimes hard to talk to my family about my health struggles, but I can tell Mandy exactly how I’m feeling and if I’ve had a bad day. It’s nice to talk to someone who isn’t family as I can be honest about how I’m feeling. Mandy always has time to listen.

“Mandy gives me a sense of purpose when I talk to her. She is supportive and asks me how I feel. If I’ve had a couple of bad days, I can talk about it with her and it takes a weight off my shoulders. If I ever feel a bit low, she arrives with a big smile on her face, and it brings me up. It’s nice to have someone I can relate to.

“Mandy is a breath of fresh air. She’s good as gold, a real angel. We couldn’t have been matched more perfectly.”

  • Volunteering

    Make a difference in your local community when you join the Rennie Grove Peace volunteering team

  • Compassionate Neighbours

    Compassionate Neighbours is a social movement of local people enabled and supported to be more compassionate in their local communities.

  • Donate

    Help fund specialist care for families in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire when you donate to Rennie Grove Peace.