Volunteering voices

I came across Community Network through Arthritis Care via Age UK.

For many years the blip in my life has been rheumatoid arthritis and since 2005 I have been delivering self-management programmes for Arthritis Care and also the Expert Patient Programme.

In the summer of 2012 I was approached by Arthritis Care to train as a facilitator for group telephone courses set up by Community Network in partnership with Age UK called Fit as a Fiddle. I facilitated two of these courses and from the start was aware of the major difference between the face-to-face and telephone groups. Why has the idea of the social conference call taken so long to evolve? A group of 5 or 6 people in one telephone conversation, for one hour every week or fortnight, discussing a number of mutually agreed topics. The participants can live anywhere in the UK. All that is needed is for them to be at the end of a telephone line. It’s such a brilliant concept that I ask again why has it taken so long to evolve?

The whole enterprise is run by the marvelous Community Network. This very efficient and most worthwhile organisation obtains its resources from charitable donations, funding bids and their work as a social enterprise. I am very happy and proud to be associated with this superb charity. The staff are brilliant, as is the whole concept.

I have facilitated several courses now, fixed term and on-going, and hope to be able to continue this simple but hugely satisfying task of picking up a telephone and having a chat with friends. The other self-management courses still have their place as face-to-face work is very important, and I will continue to deliver for both Expert Patient Programmes and Arthritis Care. However, I have been absolutely converted to the telephone conference call courses. I have a simple message for you – join one!

Don, Community Network telephone group facilitator