Valerie Watson is the Caravan welfare assessor for Durham and Northumberland.
She is one of 40 assessors at the trade welfare charity who make yearly visits to each of its 1,300 beneficiaries.
Although Watson worked in middle management for the civil service for 40 years, she has been a volunteer at Caravan for five years and understands how retired grocery workers might benefit from Caravan’s help.
“People who work in the grocery trade have never been well paid. Few have an occupational pension and many rely on pension credits,” she says.
The main part of Watson’s job is to visit each of her 71 beneficiaries once a year. She will check their health and financial situation and give advice on the benefits that they could be entitled to.
She will also check to see that their basic
necessities such as white goods, telephones, televisions and beds are in working order. If not, Caravan will replace or provide new ones.
Watson really enjoys meeting her beneficiaries: “They are all very grateful for what they receive. Many say that Caravan makes such a difference to their lives,” she says. “They also get in touch and build up a relationship with me so that I get to know and understand them.”
And she has touched many lives: “About four years ago I helped an 80-year-old gentleman
valerie watson welfare assessor