Meet the volunteer: Janette Thorburn

Jan 20, 2022

All her life, Janette Thorburn has been helping others – now that she is retired, she picked up exactly where she left off, providing seniors with companionship through In Great Company. We sat down with her to chat all things volunteering. 

When did you get involved with this organisation? 

I only joined six months ago. I managed to visit my friend Tina three times in June/July before we went into lockdown again. I thought it would only last a few weeks, but it went on and on, so I only just recommenced visits in November. We have
already had a lot of fun together.  

What attracted you to the cause? 

I always said I would do some form of volunteer work when I retired. I worked with older people all my working life as an audiologist. I loved hearing about their resilience through their stories. I started looking at a website that advertised
all types of volunteer positions. Of them all, I thought being a visiting friend could be very nice. David, my husband, asked me what my ideal person would be. I remember answering: likes sharing stories, gardening, cooking, going for walks.
These are impossible, but it would ideal if they spoke Italian or Spanish so I could practise, and it was walking distance. Tina is my perfect match. She even speaks Italian and lives a 15-minute walk away.  

What attracted you to this organisation in particular? 

To be honest, I knew nothing about In Great Company, but when I came across their role advertisement and investigated, I liked what I saw and as I went through the application, interview and training process, I found all their staff amazing, caring
and supportive, and their information practical and directly helpful.  

What are your activities and what do they involve? 

I have to say I am so lucky to have found Tina. A typical visit would include: a chat, a coffee – she makes a perfect coffee so I let her make it -, and she always has biscuits that she or her daughter has made; we check her fantastic veggie garden
– the beans we planted are growing well and often there is something to tie up or stake; and we might go for a walk saying hello to neighbours as we go.  

What motivates you to stay involved? 

I really enjoy my time with Tina. It is something different in my life. I learn so much during our chats. She has shared recipes and gardening tips. I made gnocchi the way she explained they should be made, and they are so yummy, easy to freeze
and use as needed. I’ve never thought you could make them so easily and freeze them.  

In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organisation does? 

When dealing with the In Great Company Volunteer team, I am impressed by their total commitment to the care and safety of their clients and the respect they show them. This would be important to all the work Feros Care does.  

Why do you volunteer? 

I wanted to do something useful with my extra time but also I feel I get more than I give. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon. 

Did anything in your life play a role in providing inspiration for your involvement?  

Working as an allied health professional, I loved helping people make the most of their lives. This is similar but you don’t have to do anything specific, just be there with them and enjoy. 

Do you have an anecdote about this cause/organisation that really moved you? 

We know COVID-19 has been difficult. I found it impressive when we were trying to resume volunteer visits to see how In Great Company handled this. There is a was a need to balance safety of clients, safety of staff and provide care while still
following the different rule requirements of each state. This was complicated, new and with risks, but In Great Company worked through this methodically with great care.

What other organisations or causes do you support? 

I support several other organisations and causes. I consider myself fortunate to be in a position to give back and help others where I can.  

Do you have a message to share? 

If you can, volunteering and helping others is very rewarding – you get what you give.  

What this volunteering has done for me and maybe can do for you: 

  • gives you a sense of purpose and add to your happiness;

  • is mentally stimulating and even challenges you to get out of your comfort zone sometimes;

  • helps you meet new people;

  • gives you a feeling of community with your new friend’s world and the service you represent;

  • gives you an understanding of other ways of life and other people’s values;

  • improves your feeling of self-worth;

  • brings some fun with it. 


If you’d like to become a volunteer with In Great Company and make a senior’s life less lonely, you can do so here.