Dom is a rockstar befriender. Working in printing since age sixteen, he has morphed from a heavy metal musician to a fitness advocate humanitarian. His early years were spent in England’s town of Washington, known as the home of George Washington’s ancestors. Relocating to Gateshead in 1992, Dom currently serves as a full-time employee for Gateshead Council. He has both qualified as a clinical nutritional therapist and run multi-sports sessions for autistic children. Despite the eventual lack of funding, he won a Community Sports Leadership Award for his service.
Then came the Covid-19 lockdown and Dom was redeployed to Age UK Gateshead. When taking calls, he noticed how the mixed messages from the government and media were wreaking havoc on the mental health of so many. He decided to volunteer his time to make regular befriending calls. Now each weekend you can find him making reassuring phone calls to those in need through the Volunteero App utilized by Age UK Gateshead.
“Somebody could be in a state of panic...just knowing that someone’s there to help them. You could, in that one phone call, de-escalate all of their panic and their anxiety... And I just thought how important it was to be able to give people reassurance at a time when everything was so confusing.”
When not on calls, Dom enjoys computer games and sports weekends with friends. He’s ziplined in Wales and even climbed the UK’s Honister Via Ferrata Extreme, where one can dangle over a 2,000-foot drop.
“It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. And I can tell you that I won’t do it again...but I felt a great accomplishment after doing it.”
One particular phone call he says will always stay with him was to an elderly gentleman in his 90’s who was in a state of confusion. Unsure of whether he’d given himself the correct diabetic injection and not knowing the whereabouts of his antidepressants, the older man was understandably upset. Dom raised the alarm in his organisation, and the man is now sorted and being provided with hot meals.
“It was such a relief to know that he was being looked after...“It showed me that I’m suitable for this kind of work.”
Though busy again with the new school year’s printing, Dom’s humanitarian service stays with him. Having just completed the Level Two Adult Safeguarding qualification, he hopes to move into full-time adult social care work. The world needs more people like Dom, a thoroughly deserving Volunteero of the Week.