Volunteering on a Sense holiday was like being part of a family

Two smiling women and smiling girl

I wanted to do something different with my summer. Something positive that would further myself and my career prospects. When I found out about Sense holidays and short breaks I applied straight away; what could be more rewarding than giving a child with complex needs an exciting holiday?

Volunteering on a holiday with children who are deafblind would be new to me. I thought it could be a perfect opportunity to gain new skills and experiences to benefit my future career as I work towards becoming a paediatric Occupational Therapist, demonstrating how even outside of my course I am striving to develop myself as a healthcare professional – perfect for my Continuing Professional Development portfolio.

As a group of four children, five volunteers and one experienced holiday leader, we spent a week exploring the local attractions of Wiltshire – from Legoland to strawberry picking – and enjoyed swimming in the pool at our cottage.

During the holiday, I developed my Makaton and communication skills. I became confident in supporting each child as an individual – learning how to manage their environment to keep them happy, and how to calm them when they felt overwhelmed. Most importantly I encouraged the holidaymaker I was paired with over the week to engage in the world around her, and watch her joy as she did.

I couldn’t have hoped to work with a more amazing bunch of volunteers; we were such a strong and positive team from the moment we arrived. Cheesy as it sounds, it was like a family. I have so many fond memories of my Sense holiday. As you’d expect, it had its challenges at times, but they were certainly outweighed by the smiles and laughs. Will I be back next year? 100% yes.

Sense organise holidays and short breaks throughout the year and all around the UK for people of all ages with multi-sensory impairments and complex needs.

Visit the Sense website to find out more about how you can volunteer on a Sense holiday

Read newly qualified nurse Jodie’s experience of volunteering on a Sense holiday in a recent guest post.

Author: Rebekah Russell

Rebekah Russell is a student occupational therapist and Sense volunteer.

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