“Talking to them makes me feel strong"

Posted: Wednesday 08 April 2020

“Something made it very clear to me that I couldn’t sit back and do nothing,” says Judith Hilton, Macular Society member and befriending volunteer. “If I had the chance to do anything I would do it - and I just thought that even if I can’t get out any more, I’ll still have a purpose in life.”

Judith is part of a team of Macular Society befrienders who make regular calls to people feeling isolated by their macular disease. “Talking to them makes me feel strong. You forget about yourself and think about your befriendees on their own looking forward to the phone call. Some of them get quite anxious, and everything churns up inside them, but we all feel like that at times.”

It's not all serious medical talk, either. “We laugh about things, especially if you’ve kissed what you think is your grandson and it’s your grandson’s friend. You’ve got to laugh about things like that, haven’t you?”

A lifetime purpose

One way and another, Judith has spent her life helping other people. “I spent 12 years working with disabled children, then 26 years volunteering in mainstream schools. After I retired I volunteered for several years at the home where my mother in law was living,” she remembers.

“Even when my eyesight started to fail, they still welcomed me in, and that was a sheer joy.”

Everyone wins

Befriending brings a real richness to the lives of everyone involved, Judith says. “It’s been so rewarding. I don’t think I’d have accepted things if I couldn’t have carried on doing this sort of pastoral care, if you like. I do feel I have got a purpose in life.

“There’s such a lot of people out there who are on their own and losing their sight. I usually say to them: ‘Why don’t you try befriending?’ because it’s a two-way thing. We all get a lot out of it. Just sending a Christmas or birthday card via the Society means so much to them.”

“I tell everybody, it’s not the end but a new beginning.”

All Macular Society face to face services and support group meetings have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. At times like these, our volunteer telephone befrienders are even more vital. To sign up as a volunteer befriender, or to get regular friendly calls from someone who really understands macular disease, call 0300 3030 111 or visit macularsociety.org/telephone-befriending