Volunteering for Communicare is a family and sporting affair!

Volunteering for Communicare is a family and sporting affair!

Communicare befriender and world-renowned diving coach/judge Lindsey Fraser from Southampton is celebrating this week after one of her young divers brought home silver and bronze at Junior Europeans in Croatia.

Leon Baker, 16, from Shirley, who specialises on springboard, took silver on three-metre in the individual events and bronze in Synchro on three-metre with partner Tyler Humphreys from Dive London.

Communicare Manager, Annie Clewlow says: “This was quite significant for the whole team here at Communicare and for all our service users too, who we like to keep up to date with news related to anyone who is part of our Communicare family.

“Not only is Lindsey Leon’s coach but she is also one of our volunteers, who we call Communiteers, and his mum Tomo is too. Plus, his dad Matt is a director of our new commercial venture Communibakes, a community bakery that we’re working on launching later this year.”

Communicare is very much an intergenerational charity. It likes to encourage all ages to come together in its bid to help eradicate loneliness and isolation in the city. Sharing news and successes like this within the community is all part of its ethos of bringing all ages together.

Lindsey explains: “We’ve had some tremendous support from everyone connected with Communicare. Leon’s performance at the Junior Europeans was all the more remarkable when you put it into context with the pandemic. Unlike the other nations at the event, whose training schedules were only interrupted briefly at the outset, Leon has only been able to have access to his usual facilities for 20 weeks in the last 18 months.

“In addition, he was fortunate enough to be offered one day’s training each week at the Olympic pool in Stratford for a period of 10 weeks, but that was it. Otherwise, he had to make the most of his bedroom, garden and the local area. We are so proud of him and I know everyone at Communicare is too!”

Leon, who also came ninth on one-metre in Croatia, was invited to join the diving programme in Southampton following coaches carrying out talent identification in July 2014 at Shirley Junior School.

Leon says: “I got invited to give diving a try after the coaches came to visit my school. I had never thought of giving it a go. I certainly didn’t know that I might be able to be good at it. As soon as I got started, I realised it was something that I would really enjoy.

“Getting to my level of the sport does mean a lot of hard work and support from my family, but it is all worth it and there is a great social life too. I am very lucky to have such supportive parents and great coaches. It’s also great to know everyone at Communicare is cheering me on too.”

Now the charity’s team and service users are looking forward to Leon returning home so they can hear more about the event.

Tomo says: “Matt and I are so proud of Leon. He has really worked hard for this and puts his diving ahead of lots of other things he could be choosing to spend his time on. He did brilliantly and it’s wonderful the Communicare family is behind him too.”

During the various lockdowns Lindsey was unable to coach, so she took up befriending for Communicare and has found ways to continue after going back to work full-time.

“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 those I chat to this week, but I try 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 exciting news!”

The calls that Lindsey and other Communicare volunteers make support isolated or vulnerable people in the city.

Annie adds: “We’re looking for more kind-hearted people, like Lindsey and the Baker family, to help out with our charity.”