I first started volunteering for Sense almost 25 years ago. I was a key-worker for a blind woman with communication difficulties who often asked to go on a Sense Holiday. In the days before the internet it took me a while to eventually discover what she was referring to! But finally I went along with her.
I was really impressed by Sense’s focus on enabling people. Their approach was not a common way to consider people with differences in the early 90’s. I was so inspired that I returned every year, sometimes doing two holidays.
After nine years of volunteering I started to lead on holidays. I have missed a couple of years in that time, but always kept in touch doing minibus runs and leisure clubs.
I led a holiday in April and would definitely say that volunteering has helped me be more confident in being myself and facing life’s challenges. Leading holidays has also influenced and benefited my managerial style.
Why sense holidays are so inspiring
Sense holidays are inspiring because they always have unexpected challenges that test and teach me about my own capabilities. There are moments that are deeply moving, and sometimes surprising situations that still make me smile months after the holiday has ended.
I’ve been on the canal boat holiday many times. My other favorites would be the folk festival and outdoor pursuit centres. Often it’s the spontaneous unexpected moments that can make something ordinary into an adventure.
One of my favourite things about a Sense holiday is meeting the parents and hearing about how precious those few days break is for them too. I have been away with people in their 30s where it has been the first time the parents have had a week off being carers. It might be decorating, spending time with their other children or just resting – the things most of us take for granted, but are so hard to do when you have a child with complex needs.
It’s Volunteers’ Week 2017. There’s lots of volunteering opportunities with Sense holidays. The holidays team are particularly interested in hearing from men with British Sign Language skills.
Visit the Sense website to find out more about how you can volunteer on a Sense holiday and make a difference.