All our Volunteers have their own unique set of life skills and experiences and this Volunteers Week we’d like to share some of their stories to explain what volunteering means to them, and to thank them for their support and the difference they make to their community.
Dee’s Story – Volunteer Counsellor
My name is Dee and I completed my counselling placement with Carer Support West Cumbria (CSWC) whilst training with the University of Cumbria. Continuing as a Volunteer Counsellor just felt like a natural follow-on and working as part of the wider CSWC team reassures me that my clients have access to other support too, such as information and support around benefits or opportunities for social get-togethers.
Although all my clients share the commonality of being Carers, each individual brings a wide range of different concerns to talk through. Almost all say the same thing at the beginning “I don’t know where to start”, but our time goes quickly and the weeks fly by.
They report the benefits of feeling heard and listened to without judgement – something we all need but sadly, in this busy world, is often overlooked. Counselling clients is a trusting relationship but for those who haven’t ever tried it, you’d be surprised perhaps to hear that amongst the tears, there is also mirth and laughter. As Volunteer Counsellor with CSWC I continue to be both humbled and honoured to be taken into someone’s confidence. Most importantly, I really love what I do!
Moira’s Story – Volunteer Sitter
I have volunteered in a few different roles over a period of several years. For me volunteering helped to ‘plug a gap’ between my previous work world and post retirement life. I have read recently that research into volunteering has found that it can provide mental health benefits for individual volunteers. I find this to be true for me.
Through volunteering I am able to derive a sense of purpose and satisfaction whilst connecting with others in a structured way. Altogether I find this amounts to quite a reward for making a small, regular yet manageable commitment.
Carer Support West Cumbria was an organisation I was already aware of through work and personal networks. Once I made the decision to approach the team I immediately felt welcomed and further eased into the role with a brief introductory training period. I chose the role as I thought there was a good probability that it would be something I was able to do, fortunately this has turned out to be the case. I feel comfortable & confident within the role, have met some lovely people, and usually leave a visit with a sense of satisfaction of having done something that’s made some difference, albeit a ‘drop in the ocean’.
The role of ‘volunteer sitter’ is literally that, to sit with the cared for person in order to ensure they remain safe whilst their carer ‘takes a breather’.
At first I admit to feeling a little confused about ‘who’ I was doing ‘what’ with or for. So whilst spending time with the cared for person the service is primarily aimed at benefiting their carer. This aspect no longer seems strange to me. The carer appears to benefit from having an arranged break as they are able to safely leave their partner/ spouse/ relative knowing the person will not be on their own & use that period in whatever way they choose. So in my experience carers often get out, occasionally they might simply go into a different room in order to gain a sense of space.
The sitter is informed of the cared for person’s relevant issues and main difficulties but also something of their likes and interests My experience has been such that once a relationship has been established with the people I have sat with it is then easy to spend a couple of hours in whatever way suits us both. This might be completing a crossword together, having a chat, playing a board game or simply sitting whilst the person is silent or snoozes.
The well organised and supportive team behind scenes at Carer Support West Cumbria means the volunteer knows there is always backup from someone.
I hope I have painted a brief picture of why I volunteer in this role. In summary I guess it would be fair to say the organisation is impressive, I am happy in the role and as just one example an input such as this, I know it can make a real difference to some of the stress in people’s lives. If you or someone you know is considering volunteering and once comfortable with that role keep in mind there are benefits to be gained all round.
Volunteer Celebration Event
As you can see from above our volunteers play an important part in the work we do, and the services we provide to support carers, so during Volunteers Week we wanted celebrate the incredible contribution they make.
To say thank you we have arranged a Volunteers Week lunch, when all our volunteers will be able to join us for sandwiches, cakes and coffee as well as a special thank you gift from us.
Thank you all for sharing your time and skills with us!
Our volunteers are highly regarded, both by us and the Carers they help; we regularly receive calls and cards thanking us for the services they provide. Here’s just some of the comments we’ve received:
“The volunteer driver was a godsend to me. He was really lovely and pleasant… he was very helpful.’’
“The volunteer sitter was someone new to talk to my mum, which brightened her day and made her feel valued. I was able to go out of the house feeling confident that mum had company.’’
Volunteering offers vital help to those in need within your community, if you would like more information about Volunteering with Carer Support West Cumbria Carers visit carersupportwestcumbria.co.uk/volunteering