Hello, my name is Jane Troubridge. I have been living in Spain for 11 years and feel very lucky that my three children and two grandchildren all live close to me in Spain. My husband has a successful business here and we feel truly blessed. However, life has not always been so good, in fact,for many years my life was pretty horrendous. The positive I take from surviving those dark days is the experience and empathy that I am able to share with others.
I am proud to be a volunteer of Help Vega Baja and privileged to be the Co-ordinator of a very special team of compassionate Help Vega Baja volunteers called “The Connections Team.” My family is the most precious thing in my life, closely followed by The Connections Team, whichI consider, my second family.
I was honored to work with the Help Vega Baja committee to introduce a new service to the charity. This wonderful new service aims to provide 24-hour emotional support and guidance to the practical support that Help Vega Baja are, and have been providing to so many peoplefor many years. This service has proven to be immensely successful in helping people take positive steps forward in a times of need, by combining emotional and practical support in a professional and supportive manner. The team currently has 12 carefully trained listeners. Emotional support is available by calling 965021552, 24-hours a day, everyday of the year, or by email at support@helpvegabaja.com. We also welcome people to pop in our meeting places for a cuppa and a chat, these are open Monday- Friday.Times and places advertised on our website.
So, what do we mean by emotional support and how does “Connections” help? We listen to anybody about anything that is troubling them in complete confidence and without judgement. It maybe relationship problems, financial issues, health concerns, anxiety, depression, bereavement, loneliness, abuse, addictions and many more. Actively listening to someone is a very special gift to give someone. If you think about it in today’s society, how often do we truly listen? I admit that, like most of us, when listening to friends and family I often peek at my mobile or load the dishwasher or perhaps think about what to cook for dinner. However, when on a Connections duty, a listener is carefully trained to be totally focused on actively listening to our callers, for those minutes the listener will shut the world out and give 100% commitment to every word spoken. By doing this we are able to give our callers time and space to gently explore their feelings in a safe and supportive environment, enabling them to offload difficult and sometimes overwhelming emotions. Of course, byhaving no emotional connection to our callers, they will feel comfortable to voice any feelings without fear of hurting our feelings. We continue to provide this emotional support for as long as our caller feels they need us to, and where necessary we can give guidance to practical support with our Help Vega Baja Welfare Officer, Help Vega Baja Committee, social workers, British Consulate, charities, organisations and counsellors.
Over the coming months we are going to be discussing specific issues within the community that we feel the Help Vega Baja Connection volunteerscan help with. The first being loneliness, which is an increasing concern for the expat community. Many people find themselves alone in Spain due to bereavement of a loved one, often with all their other family members and friends in the UK. Sometimes their carefully chosen home in asemi-rural situation enjoyed with a loved one, can leave them feeling isolated, trapped and lonelywhen their loved one has gone.Not wishing to burden their families living so many miles away, these feelings can become despairing.People caring for a loved one 24 hours a day can feel alone with little, if anytime, to socialise with friends or offload the difficulties they face every day.
Some people may feel alone with a problem, they may have many people around them but unable to share their difficult feelings with these people and therefore also feel isolated with distressing emotions. Couples can also feel isolated and lonely perhaps on urbanisations that feel empty in the winter months or unable to get out and about due to physical difficulties, not able to join in activities or socialise. Added to this, is the language barrier.Imagine for a moment someone living alone and not even being able to talk to someone at their local shops, pharmacy, perhaps not voicing anything or understanding any conversation for days on end, not being able to share even the smallest of worries which is a natural thing for us all to do.Connections listeners alsoprovide emotional support with the “Keep in Touch Scheme”.We will telephone people on the scheme who sometimes feel lonely or isolated,on agreed days for a chat. This is a very important part of our service, providing our community with a friendly voice and listening ear as this may be the onlytime they have had an opportunity to chat in days. Chatting through day to day worries can prevent these feelings from escalating and building layer upon layer of distress, which may lead to overwhelming emotions of despair or suicidal thoughts.
In addition to Connections and the Keep in Touch Scheme, Help Vega Baja are proud to announce their new Befriending Service. This new service provides a volunteer to go along and sit with someone, have a chat over a cup of teaand maybe more importantly, provide a carer with a few hours to themselves whilst their loved one has someone to keep them company. Our volunteers also visit people who are lonely and perhaps unable to leave their home through physical disability and therefore have little, if any, interaction with others. We are also happy to visit people who are residing in a nursing home. Many elderly people have limited Spanish, and nursing homes which are predominantly Spanish, can at times be quite isolating. The new Befriending Service and the Welfare team,, which also provide visits and offer advice, work well with the Connections Team and provides well rounded support for people in our community.
Being a listener is one of the best skills I have learnt, I am blessed to be volunteering with such kind and wonderfully warm people and to becontributing to the amazing work of such a successful charity.I find my role immensely rewarding, I often hear the words“thank you for listening”.
If you would like to find out more about HELP Vega Baja, visit their webpage at www.helpvegabaja.com or their active Facebook page. Anyone interested in learning how to become a listener can contact Jane via the HELP Vega Baja San Miguel Centre on 966 723 733 or 865 661 497