Our volunteer befriender and world-renowned diving coach and judge Lindsey Fraser from Southampton who’s at the FINA Diving World Cup 2021 in Japan has given our charity a sporting scoop.
Despite her judging role at the event, Lindsey has kept in contact with our service users, via the charity, who she telephone befriends and told them a Southampton diver would be at the Olympics.
The Olympian, who represented Britain twice at the Olympics herself and has also competed at the Commonwealth Games, explained: “The best divers from around the world are competing in Tokyo at the moment from the 3m springboard and 10m platform in both individual and synchronised events to become World Cup champions.
“The FINA Diving World Cup 2021 also serves as a qualifying competition for diving at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. Tanya Watson from Southampton, who I train in the UK but was representing Ireland here and was coached poolside by Damian Ball, has successfully qualified for the Olympic Games.
“Tanya is the first Irish female diver in history to qualify for the Olympic Games!
She finished 16th in the prelims for the 10m platform at the FINA Diving World Cup in Japan, which means she advances to the semi-finals and Tokyo 2021. It’s so exciting for everyone involved and I’m so delighted for her.
“I’ve been continuing my befriending, as best I can, while I’ve been out here using WhatsApp. Due to recent technical difficulties, it hasn’t proved possible to talk directly to them this week, but I have been able to send messages via the Communicare staff team.
“I appreciate how important it is to the Communicare members who I have befriended while we were on lockdown, and I was furloughed from work, to maintain regular contact. The charity and those I have befriended have been some of the first to find out about this news overnight!”
Someone who has had updates via the charity from Lindsey while she’s been away is Communicare service user Mark Compton who struggles with depression and is a wheelchair user due to severe back pain.
Lindsey adds: “In the first lockdown I became a telephone befriender for Communicare. I was allocated Bob and I talk to him once a week. In September, I was asked by the charity if I would also call Mark, as they thought I might be able to help him.
“Mark is in his 50s. He lives with his wife, who supports him, but she works full-time. Mark used to be in the forces and was very active. He is an avid Saints fan and was a National Pool Champion and referee up until 2014. Unfortunately, his back pain hindered him from continuing with this. He is also an art lover and draws portraits. Mark has a lot of challenges. I talk to him once a week, for around 20-30 minutes.”
The calls that Lindsey and other Communicare volunteers make support isolated or vulnerable people in the city.
Mark says: “It’s really exciting to be so close to the action in Japan via my link with Lindsey through Communicare.
“I enjoy having Lindsey as a telephone pal, as she has experience of ex-forces people, so she understands the sense of humour that goes with that and I don’t have to explain myself. She is also a very helpful and an interesting person. We have mutual interests. I like her upbeat approach to life and the way she is forward thinking. Anybody ringing for a chat is good and her calls have been very good for me.”
Our service is particularly important with the current on-going pandemic, which is preventing people from socialising as normal, which can have an impact on their physical health and mental wellbeing.
The charity is delighted that volunteers like Lindsey, who have been furloughed through each lockdown are able to continue supporting the charity and its service users when they return to work.
Manager, Annie Clewlow says: “Lindsey has been a wonderful support to us in the past year and we’d like to extend our congratulations to Tanya and her.
“The feedback we’ve had from people like Mark, has been fantastic and shows the real difference a regular phone call can make. We’re looking for more kind-hearted people, like Lindsey, to become volunteers and to spread a little joy by keeping in touch with our service users who need it. Volunteers do need access to a phone and internet.”
Lindsey adds: “Telephone befriending gives both people involved something to look forward to each week. It doesn’t take up much time but is highly valuable to both of us. It’s been relatively easy to fit it into my normal week, even though I am now fully back at work.”
To volunteer for Communicare’s telephone befriending service, please see the Volunteer section of our website.
Photograph caption: Tanya Watson from Southampton who is the first Irish female diver in history to qualify for the Olympic Games.