Connor joined the Financial Services Programme in 2021 having recently graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University with a degree in Business and Management. He’s now on his first placement with Hodge Bank.
Aside from his work and studies, Connor is passionate about volunteering and has recently been part of the telephone befriending service, Age Cymru.
He tells us more about his volunteering work and what drove him to get involved.
“Age Cymru are a telephone befriender service that matches volunteers with older clients who might be feeling lonely in their communities. My match was with a man called John who I would call once a week, every Friday at 4 to have a catch up.
I first heard about the opportunity to be involved with Age Cymru while I was in my final year of Uni. I was completing an extra-curricular award that required me to complete some volunteering hours however because of the national lockdown, I was unable to complete all my hours and was stuck as to what to do at that point.
It was at a presentation by Skills Volunteering Cymru (SVC) that introduced me to the concept of Age Cymru. At first it didn’t feel like it was me, but with time I got more interested in the idea. I started to think about how I could help people in lockdown, especially as loneliness was such a major impact of it. I decided to give it a go and ended up volunteering with Age Cymru for just over a year.”
Volunteering is a fantastic way to not only give back to the community but also to learn or develop skills and this was true for Connor.
“At first my goal was to develop my telephone speaking skills. I always struggled talking on the phone and had “Phone Anxiety,” but after my first few calls, I realised that the relationship I built with John was far more meaningful and contributed much more to my personal development.
What started out as an awkward half an hour telephone call every Friday night between strangers, blossomed into a great friendship between two people who wouldn’t usually interact with each other.
John told me so many great stories of his from his time serving in the territorial army and of his later life as a driving instructor. He gave a fresh perspective which made me consider that maybe my problems weren’t as bad as I thought they were.
In November 2021, I made my final call to John but this time it was his daughter who answered. She broke the news of his passing. At his funeral later that month, I met with so many strangers that welcomed me with open arms as the “Young man who looked after John”. It was a surreal experience to meet complete strangers who hugged me saying thank you for looking out for their dad. It made an impact on me so personally that it’s an experience I won’t forget.
Age Cymru are always looking for volunteers. It’s a matter of contacting them to get started. Once you complete a few hours of induction, you’ll wait to be matched. From then on, it’s up to you.
My advice would be to make the most of it. Ask questions, talk about good times. Tell them about yourself. These are people who have lived long, interesting lives and they can share so much experience and offer you a new perspective on life. It certainly benefited me.”
A really touching story from Connor and reminder that we can make a big difference to other people even from the comfort of our homes. Volunteering is often a mutually beneficial thing to do and that really came across in Connor’s story.
Thanks to Connor for sharing.