No strangers to volunteering, having given their time to various roles throughout the course of many decades, the couple spent 22 years.
MOVING to Horsham “temporarily” in 2009, John and Sandra Bamkin thought they’d volunteer “while we’re here”; nine years on the couple could have never imagined the amazing impact their friendly visiting would have or the ongoing friendships they would develop.
Travelling Australia on their bus and gaining amazing life experiences, before moving to Horsham when John was given the chance to study IT.
Joining the former Wimmera HUB, Sandra was involved in taking clients shopping while John volunteered as a driver, with their roles later evolving to friendly visiting; something the couple’s impressive background as counselors no doubt assisted with.
And, aged a spritely 73 and 76 respectively, Sandra and John simply refuse to utter the “R” word…retirement: “We have a laugh when people say they’re retired as we refuse to use that word; we have so much still to offer”.
“Volunteering as friendly visitors is a lot of fun, and we have developed strong rapport and friendships with the people we visit,” Sandra said. Plus, we get a lot out of knowing we can still be of use to the community like keeping and get to meet lots of nice people and have fun,” John said.
If their counselling background wasn’t impressive enough, the couple also trained in IT, management, natural therapies, massage and training, and, during their travels, spent time living and working with Aboriginal communities.
Visiting a client who was shy, closed off and didn’t engage with them to the point refused to let them enter his home, the couple worked on his engagement skills and are proud to now consider the client a friend who has most definitely come out of his shell since they met.
“We’ve developed such a good friendship with this client, who loves going for coffee and drives, and even asked whether he could spend his birthday with us,” Sandra said. “We used to run meditation classes and brought him along. This helped him get out of the house and meet new people. Prior to our friendly visiting there is no way he would have ever done that,” she said.