Volunteers befriend newly discharged patients to keep them out of hospital

Joan Jackson, 84, was admitted to Southampton general hospital earlier this month with acute stomach pains. She was diagnosed with gallstones and a liver problem. Three days later she had an operation to remove the blockage.

Jackson, who has no family, says she does not know what she would have done without Gary Collett, a volunteer who has been helping her for two and a half years. “He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. If it weren’t for him, all I’d have to wear is one nightie. He brought me extra nighties, did my washing, fetched me things to read. Not many people would do that.”

Collett, 59, visits every Tuesday and Thursday – he does shopping and odd bits of DIY, and makes tea. He is one of Southampton-based charity Communicare’s most assiduous volunteers, helping around nine people. Collett got involved with the charity three years ago. “I was given a list of voluntary jobs by Jobcentre Plus, signed up and haven’t looked back,” he says. “The thing I like to see is a smile and a thank you at the end of my visit. I really enjoy volunteering.”

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