What is your volunteer Role/roles within Age UK Sheffield?
Volunteer Support Worker; Volunteer Befriender; Volunteer Dementia Café worker.
For anyone who doesn’t know, what exactly does your role involve? Could you give us a brief description?
My multiple roles for Age UK Sheffield are quite varied.
As a Volunteer Support Worker, I help provide day centre activities, applying a cognitive stimulation therapy approach to elderly people, who often have been diagnosed with a form of dementia. A key task I perform is to ensure people are escorted safely from a minibus or taxi into the day centre. I also assist in discussing a memory board, box or timeline. Similarly I help elderly people to remember how to do the washing up, or prepare a meal. I also assist in body flexing and chair-aerobics sessions to stimulate elderly people’s coordination. I participate in painting garden gnomes, kite making and baking sessions, helping people to prepare and plan ahead. I assist in singalongs so elderly people can remember their favourite songs of yesteryear. I dance with elderly people to tunes from the 50s and 60s, helping people to remain stimulated, active and improve their quality of life.
As a Volunteer Befriender, I visit an elderly person in their own home, nursing care home or hospital and provide a friendly, good neighbourly chat. This helps to tackle social isolation, especially for people who no longer have family or friends who live close by. For such people their volunteer befriender is often the only person they will see and talk to.
As a Volunteer Dementia Café worker, the work is similar to a volunteer support worker. In a typical day I will ensure an attendance register is filled in, also that people know where toilets and the fire exits are, in the venue hosting our Dementia Café service e.g. a local church, I will help by setting out our advice and information leaflets on display, so they are easily accessible to service users. I will serve or ensure people can access tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits. I help by providing prompts during fun exercises to stimulate people’s memories.
How long have you volunteered in this role?
What is your favourite part about the role?
Helping to improve a vulnerable person’s life.
What is the most rewarding part of this role?
Combatting social isolation, seeing often lonely elderly people come alive and begin to interact with other people around them during various activities.
What is the hardest part of this role?
Slowly losing an elderly person as they struggle to remember who they are, their own name, their address, their date of birth, becoming a different person to whom I first met 3 to 4 months ago.
Is there a particular moment / story that really stands out to you from your time volunteering in this role?
Seeing the early idea of a dementia café, blossom into a well-attended, pertinent group.
If someone was interested in also volunteering with Age UK Sheffield, what advice and encouragement would you give them to help them make the leap and sign up:
Must be a good listener, must have a good sense of humour, be ever watchful.
If you could sum up the importance and impact of volunteers supporting the work of Age UK Sheffield, what would you say?
Age UK Sheffield volunteers:
Demonstrate how volunteering is rewarding in supporting vulnerable people.
Provide a community resource which helps elderly people to combat social isolation.
Disseminate good practice advice on a multitude of elderly people issues.
Are you interested in Volunteering?
If you're feeling inspired and would like to know more about volunteering with Age UK Sheffield and all of the options available, please visit our volunteering page.