To meet this South Dunedin pair one would think they have been mates from way back. The quick retorts, lively banter about news of the day, and constant stream of laughter has 78 year old Leonie McCutcheon describing her friend as cheeky and tiring.
Tiring! “Yes. I'm so tired out with laughing, I have the best sleep of the week the night following Jan's visit,” she laughs.
Leonie is talking about her Enliven Visiting Volunteer, Jan Hannah.
Jan has been an Enliven Visiting Volunteer for 15 years, the last two of which have been visiting Leonie in her own home for a catch-up over a cuppa.
“We have great rapport so it's just like visiting a friend,” says Jan. “It's something I build into my week and I just can't imagine not doing it.”
For Leone, the boot is on the other foot. Until recently, Leonie was herself a volunteer for 14 years.
“I now understand just how important a visiting volunteer service is to someone like me who can't get out and about. The people I visited were always so grateful, saying what a difference I made to their day, and here I am saying the same things to Jan. It really is the highlight of my week.”
Leone also finds great comfort in having Jan accompany her to hospital appointments.
“To have Jan there to help me find the right place, safely, and be my eyes and ears so that I remember what the doctors have told me, is very comforting.”
Jan, who is also on the Enliven Visiting Volunteer programme's advisory committee, encourages everyone to think about companion volunteering, whether in someone's private home or in a residential care home.
“You really do get a lot of enjoyment out of these visits,” she says, listening to Leone's trade-mark laugh as she interjects with a witty remark.