I ran into a friend at an awards ceremony the other day – celebrating good practice in early intervention, user involvement and self directed care.

Her mum had recently been to an out-patient appointment, in preparation for having a hip replacement. Normally independent and confident, she was called in to see the consultant alone. In a panic and not sure she’d remember anything that was said, she asked a WRVS volunteer to go in with her, to be there, to take notes, to make sure she didn’t forget to ask things – in ‘formal’ speak, to be an advocate offering peer-to-peer support.

One part of our plans for WRVS is to turn many of our cafés and shops into such resources for older people and their carers. We won’t stop the tea and sympathy (or raising funds for local hospital services and for our community activities) but we will celebrate our volunteers who seem to have the empowerment message right – even before we started telling them about it!

Or using long words.