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"I love working with groups and bringing people together."

Published on 30 November 2022 11:36 AM

Andrea volunteers with our Memory Connections group in Henleaze, supporting people living with mild to moderate dementia. Memory Connections uses Maintenance Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (MCST) to take part in meaningful and stimulating exercises, proven to help maintain memory and mental functioning.

Andrea is interested in a career using visual arts to help people; over the last few years she has been developing her knowledge and experience in this field. She began a masters course in September, and has been volunteering with Age UK Bristol to gain an understanding of dementia and group therapy practice.

Andrea said, “I love working with groups and bringing people together, we all get so much out of it; group members, staff and volunteers. The format is the same every week, but the topics and activities change – which helps keep it fresh and challenging. The members teach me so much with their knowledge and the stories of their lives. We learn new things together, we cry (sometimes), laugh (mostly laugh), have fun, discuss topics, and have philosophical conversations. We help each other.”

Andrea has enjoyed seeing the positive impact that the group has on older members. From the woman whose mother says she always looks forward to attending, to the friendships that have formed between members. “We've got two gentleman who attend. One was the only gentleman for quite a while then we had another gentleman join and they become quite friendly and now they are a sort of double act and they’ll go to get a coffee together after the group.”

Andrea’s role is to help facilitate the group and ensure that everyone receives a warm welcome. She works as a team with other volunteers and with Jo Youde, our MCST Coordinator.

Andrea runs the art discussion sessions, adapting the content for the group and how people are responding. She was nervous to begin with but has gained confidence over time and has enjoyed working alongside like-minded staff and volunteers. “It has helped me gain a sense of belonging, I enjoy helping and being part of something, I’d love to do this as a career.”