Frustration

I just found out that one of the people I speak to each week has died.

About October they stopped answering. I thought that was strange, because we got on well. You can always tell when there is a rapport.

The charity has a procedure: after several weeks of no answers, I notify them, and they send a letter out. The wording is flowery, but it is basically asking for confirmation that they still want the calls.

Obviously somebody has been going through the client’s mail, found this letter, and got in touch to explain.

It comes with the territory, I suppose, especially as the charity specifically works with seniors. but from the conversations I have with clients, I was quite gobsmacked because I had no inkling that they were anywhere near death. I’ve had clients die before, but usually the signs are there.

It’s weird, because I phone these people up each week to say hello, have a chat and along the way to get some kind of feel for whether they are all right. It’s a bit like on here, especially when somebody doesn’t appear for a while. And if they happen to be *not* all right, tough. There’s not much I can do about it. I struggle with that.

It felt similar during our first lockdown, although that was more direct. We were asked to make “reassurance” calls. They were mainly focussed on direct needs. Have you got enough food? are you managing your anxiety ok?and so on. Again, there was a limited amount we could do, if someone said “no”. We could signpost them to services which could offer concrete assistance, but we couldn’t actually do anything ourselves. We couldn’t put fresh food on their table, say.

It’s kind-of a weird feeling. You’re helping, but… there’s a limit to what you can do. Ultimately… you’re on your own.

Gobble-degook

As most of you know, I volunteer, just chatting to people on the phone each week.

Many of us are still isolating – have done so since February – so people cancelled any plans they nurmally make and stayed home instead. For me, while I normally have a short break I have just carried on this year. After all, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas this year, does it?

But there can sometimes be a funny side. We’re all relying on online grocery deliveries to keep us stocked up, though of course sometimes the stores can’t supply things.

So I had this one client, the supermarket couldn’t get hold of a turkey for him. So the poor chap had to go without.

They did, however, supply the jar of cranberry sauce he had ordered. And he’s, like, wtf am I supposed to do with this????

Zoomed Out

I had a “funny” with my charity this morning.

They offered courses on mental health, to volunteers. Might be useful, I thought, so I booked myself on. I made sure I asked, Is any specific software required? No response.

The meeting happened this morning. Last week, they sent out details. I learned that it was to be a Zoom meeting. I have never used Zoom, and I remember, when everybody was going Zoom-crazy at the start of lockdown, seeing an article in a reputable UK newspaper, listing issues with Zoom that were as long as your arm.

So I made a mental note to be cautious of it, to look at these issues in more detail if the time ever came.

I was a bit cheesed off last week when I received this Zoom request. Why hadn’t they responded when I had asked? To allow me some time to look into it and form an opinion? So, I backed out of the meeting.

Don’t worry about it. You don’t need to install anything, they replied. That’s funny, I thought, I had heard that you do. I request clarification. You just open up your browser and away you go. As they had obviously used Zoom before, and I hadn’t, I said that I would attend.

This morning, the day of the meeting. Fifteen minutes before, I’m on my PC, I dig out the email and hit the link. The very first thing it does is to ask me whether I want to install some software! Exactly what the charity had said wouldn’t happen.

So I hurriedly fired up the tablet. The meeting is getting close now. Guess what was the first thing it said? That’s right, install some software.

So, basically, that’s where I had to leave it. I’ve sent an email to the charity explaining that this is the reason I didn’t attend their meeting. I left out the bit about them telling me a complete pile of nonsense. Because, what’s the point?

I did do one more thing. I tried to find that Guardian link I saw all those months ago. I couldn’t, but I did find this, written just a week ago, which shows that some people, at least, still have issues with Zoom.

Twang

It’s that time at the moment. Advert after advert of pathetic scenes, please give to such-and-such a charity. The thing is, in the UK, there are about a quarter of a million registered charities. Just in the UK.

One or two have a cause we flatly disagree with. Personally, I don’t like fee-paying schools being able to identify as charities, making very little difference to their community but receiving tax breaks nonetheless. But most charities, I’d judge, fall into the “good cause” bucket. A quarter of a million of them.

So, when we decide to donate to charity, how do we decide?

We can’t just give it evenly, because none of us, personally, has enough money to go around – if we did, everyone would get nothing.

So, yes, charities are good causes. But there has to be something over and above that, which tips the balance and makes us donate. For me, and I guess for most everyone else, it is because the cause touches us personally.

So, that’s where I am this christmas. I’ll give what I usually give, to my usual charity, just like I do every other week of the year. And I won’t feel at all guilty about ignoring those adverts tugging on my heartstrings.

Wake-up Call

Here is another take on Fandango’s FPQ yesterday. If you remember, we talked about whether we’re governed by technology.

One of my regular calls for my charity is to phone somebody to remind them to take their meds.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing this. It is 2 seconds of my time and it helps someone, so it is a no-brainer. I’m around anyway.

My point is: think of all the mechanisms that you have for setting a daily reminder. Really obvious stuff. Set something up on your phone, on your computer. Maybe set an alarm on a good old-fashioned alarm clock? Or even just tie a knot in your hankie? I’m sure even I have a half-dozen ways. Simple, huh?

Not for this client. So, they ask someone to call them.

Governed by technology? You must be joking!