The power of companionship

Jul 4, 2022

Elisabeth Barrett had been alone for 12 years when In Great Company visitor Beryn entered her life. Their relationship motivated Elisabeth to get back to the things she loved: like crafts and music! Now she encourages everyone to join the volunteer

Why did you decide to register for the In Great Company Volunteer Program?  

I decided to register because I was lonely. I have lived on my own in my home for 12 years, my husband passed away 30 years ago. I have my daughter and her family who live around the corner, but they are all so very busy. I also have some friends
that I play music with, and I thought it would be nice to be able to have someone come and visit fortnightly as well.  

What did your weeks look like before you started the program? 

I was in bed most of the time and saw very few people as I was very poorly. I couldn’t get out to see people and they couldn’t come to see me. Then as things started to get better for me, I decided to have a few more people coming through
otherwise I was very alone. 

Tell us a bit about your friendly volunteer.

Beryn and I get on really well. We have similar interests, and she is a great listener. When she comes to visit, we exchange what we have both been up to. When she was unable to visit in person through COVID, we frequently spoke on Skype which I was
grateful for. 

How often do you meet? 

We meet on a Friday every fortnight, and if we can’t make it, which can sometimes happen, then we will let each other know. 

What activities do you do together?  

We both have an interest in music and crafts. We play the ukulele together and since I do various craft work like crochet, knitting, needle point, etc., I have been teaching Beryn how to crotchet. We also play backgammon. I couldn’t be happier. 

Two senior ladies sitting in a living room and playing ukuleles

Elisabeth and Beryn

How has your life changed since meeting with your volunteer?  

Beryn has been visiting me for 2 years now this July! We have become very good friends. My life has changed in lots of ways and having Beryn visit is an added bonus. I am no longer in bed most of the time as I usually was before. I am able to enjoy
a visitor and I look forward to her visits every fortnight. Also, now on Thursdays my friends come to my house to play music. I used to play in an orchestra, so I play the violin with another violinist and harpist. I also do classes with the Virtual
Social Centre

What are you most proud of?  

Taming and educating a wild brumby in 1973!  

I lived on a farm in South Australia, and we went to a yard sale where there were 2 horses, one I bought for myself and then there was a little brumby I fell in love with. He had been tied up and had no experience with people. We bought him and they
couldn’t even get him in to the horse float, but then we managed to and took him home. We put him in a small paddock. Every day I would walk through the paddock sometimes 5 or 6 times until he gradually came to trust me as he got used to
seeing me every day. One day I walked into the paddock and sat down in the middle of the paddock drinking my coffee and he would come up to me and wanted to sniff me and my coffee. Then the next day I was able to hold out my hand to stroke him
and so on. The whole process took around 5-6 years. He was too small for me in the end, so we sold him.  

What would you like to achieve together in the future?  

Keep it as is! I don’t need anything more from it. However, if the program did end then we would stay in touch and still remain friends. 

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the In Great Company Volunteer Program?  

I would say it’s a great program. I have been very lucky to find someone with whom I am compatible with, and it gives me something to look forward to. 

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.