From Ageing Well Participant to Ageing Well Volunteer

| Monday 13th February 2023 3:05pm

Jane Dey - Buddy Swimming Volunteer

Former podiatrist and librarian, retiree Jane Dey moved to Edinburgh from Tunbridge Wells in Kent in 2020, with her partner, looking for a new adventure. She’s embracing all Edinburgh has to offer and says “it’s like being let loose in a sweetie shop. It has all the advantages of a city, without the drawbacks of a larger city like London.”

Jane had always been active and as soon as Edinburgh Leisure venues opened after the lock-down, she joined Leith Victoria Swim Centre. As a newcomer in a big city, she had some trepidation, but her fears were soon allayed when she walked through the doors of one of Edinburgh Leisure’s Victorian pools and was greeted by a helpful, friendly, and smiling member of staff, who made her feel welcome from day one.

Throwing herself into her new life, Jane had always had a wish to learn to ride a bike and heard about the Ageing Well Cycle Skills Course. Run by Edinburgh Leisure in partnership with NHS Lothian, Ageing Well delivers a range of city-wide activities which support people to become, and remain, active in later life. The emphasis is on meeting new people and making physical activity accessible and enjoyable.  

Jane had three attempts at Level 1 Cycle Skills and was fine in the enclosed safety of Saughton Park but being thrown into big open spaces and having to contend with other vehicles, was another matter.

Jane was just about to graduate to Cycle Skills level 2 but unfortunately came off her bike and was out of commission for six weeks.  While she didn’t break anything, she did tear her calf muscles and her confidence was badly shaken.  She came to the realisation that the other activities that she enjoyed such as yoga, swimming and walking were much more important to her than the need to learn to ride a bike.

Nevertheless, despite this minor setback, she was determined to give back to Edinburgh Leisure and their Active Communities programmes. One of the volunteers she had met at the Cycle Skills course also volunteered as a Buddy Swimmer and encouraged Jane to get involved as she had such a love of the water.

Jane now volunteers once a week, every Tuesday, supporting less confident swimmers in the water at the Royal Commonwealth Pool. As Jane says: “I love it when someone makes a breakthrough and discovers they can put their face under water, or coordinate arms and legs in the breaststroke.  All of us volunteers are hugely rewarded when frowns and fear are replaced by smiles on the faces of participants.

“It’s so lovely to be able to give the confidence to someone new – and when new people arrive with some nervousness, I think back to that first time I went to Leith Victoria and that member of staff who smiled at me.  It’s all about making people feel confident and welcoming them.”

Edinburgh Leisure’s Active Communities programme supports around 10,000 people a year to get active and improve their health and wellbeing. Edinburgh Leisure’s volunteers are the backbone of their Active Communities programme.   They make an enormous difference to people’s lives and, quite simply, many of Edinburgh Leisure’s projects couldn’t exist without them.

No matter which role someone volunteers with, training and support is provided.

Click here to find out more about all the volunteering opportunities available to get involved with at Edinburgh Leisure. To register interest in volunteering, click here.

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