Meet the team – Age in Spain Volunteer David Dransfield
Age in Spain volunteer David Dransfield spent 20 years in the military and then a further 15 years working for the NHS as a Clinical Governance Associate Director before moving to Spain in 2014. He settled in El Puerto de Santa Maria (near Cadiz) with his wife Linda to be near their daughter who had already moved to Spain after marrying a Spanish man.
David has been volunteering with Age in Spain since 2015 and contributes to our work on the Residency Helpline, our telephone friendship service (Friendline) and the individual casework that forms part of our Support Service for people who find themselves in more difficult or complex situations. We certainly keep him busy! His volunteering is a mix of face-to-face support (particularly for people in Andalucia) and remote support by telephone or email. Asked about the difference between the two ways of working, David says “I’ve always liked the personal contact but there’s not a massive difference. Perhaps with supporting people remotely you need to think more carefully about how you communicate on the telephone or in an email, to make sure that you say clearly what needs to be said.”
David started volunteering because he felt that simply “living the dream” wasn’t quite satisfying enough so he began looking for volunteering opportunities that would use his skills and experience . He says that he finds volunteering with Age in Spain really rewarding “because I feel like I’m putting something back”.
When reflecting on his own experience of moving to Spain, David adds “when we had to sort out our residency we didn’t know what to do, how we needed to interact with the public sector and which offices we had to go to. So working for an organisation that helps people with those things is really rewarding.” He continues, “ I think a lot of people were living a bit under the radar, enjoying their lives but with Brexit they realised that they had to sort things out and it’s great that Age in Spain is there to help them with that. We all knew it was going to happen but a lot of people were leaving things to the last minute.”
Asked about a specific instance where he feels he made a real difference, David points to an example that was part of his casework volunteering for our Support Service. “We were already working with one lady who had had to move into residential care because she had been very unwell and together with Kayte (Locke, Age in Spain Support Service Co-ordinator) we started thinking about how else we could help her. This was a very intelligent woman who spoke fluent Spanish and Catalan but she told us that she missed the radio. So, we managed to get her a small grant to buy a digital radio and she says that that has made a massive difference to her. So that’s very satisfying, it was quite a simple process to do but it has had a big impact even though it’s something other people might take for granted.”
Finally, we asked David to reflect on his life in Spain and what the positives were and if there was anything he missed about life in the UK. He said that while he missed his sons who still live in England (and that the past year had been difficult as they hadn’t been able to visit) “modern communication methods like Skype make a huge difference”. On the positives of life in Spain he mentioned the food and the climate but also the fantastic care he has received from the Spanish public health service over the years, “it really is a fantastic service”.
Thanks David for everything you do for Age in Spain and all the help you have provided.
If you want to know more about volunteering with Age in Spain, go to: https://www.ageinspain.org/volunteer