21 year old Matthew, from Kent, is studying Special Educational Needs and Inclusion at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Matthew was a volunteer on two Sense short breaks where he supported holiday makers at Standon Bowes outdoor education centre to do rock climbing and raft building, and helped on a holiday at Hall Farm cottages on the Norfolk broads.
Sense are always so welcoming, they ensure all the volunteers are well prepared and ready to support the holidaymakers. For example, I’d never worked with any blind people before. Sense provided training, such as teaching us how to safely guide blind people, so I felt comfortable going into the holiday.
The experience has definitely given me confidence in communicating and supporting people with disabilities – being in an environment where the holidaymakers and volunteers are using British Sign Language is fantastic.
At my most recent holiday at Hall Farm I supported the whole group rather than being paired with one individual. Every young person on the holiday achieved something, whether it was trying a new food or climbing extremely high ropes! I helped with everything from cooking meals and driving the minibus, to playing games with the holidaymakers.
I always have a great experience volunteering, I really enjoy meeting like-minded people from lots of different backgrounds and all with different experiences; from people that have just left school, to people that have had long careers in special needs, there’s lots to learn from one another.
For anyone thinking of volunteering, but unsure if they’re suitable or have the right skillset, I’d say bite the bullet and go for it. You will be surprised at how much you have to offer, how much there is to learn and how much fun you will have.
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 Rebekah’s experience of volunteering on a Sense holiday in a recent guest post.