I came away with far more than just BSL experience when I volunteered on a Sense Holiday

Two smiling women standing in a garden communicate with hand on hand signing

As a university student studying British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting, a Sense Holiday seemed like the perfect way to get some practical experience. But when I met Raji, I came away with so much more.

Two smiling women standing in a market communicate with hand on hand signingRaji enjoys dance, drama and acting, but most of all she loves to make people laugh, which she usually does with her amazing Shirley Bassey impression!

Raji has both a hearing and visual impairment and communicates using hands-on BSL.

Because of her communication needs, Raji can struggle to find the right support to enable her to access her community, to meet new people and feel included.

So, Raji was thrilled to be able to spend a week on a Sense Holiday last summer where, with a bit of support, she was able to make new friends and be as adventurous as she wanted!

My role as a Sense Holiday volunteer was to support Raji in achieving everything that she wanted to. We quickly developed a fantastic relationship, and most of the time we couldn’t stop laughing.

My BSL skills helped Raji and Catherine to connect

Two smiling women standing on the beach communicate with hand on hand signing

I worked closely with Raji and together we got involved in lots of activities and trips, including a day at the beach, meals out, snow-tubing and canoeing.

The holiday was also a great chance for me to develop my BSL, and learn some really useful skills like haptic signs – a way of providing additional information through touch.

I got a chance to put my BSL skills into action, supporting Raji to communicate with other people on the holiday.

Raji grew particularly close to another holidaymaker called Catherine. Together, they had a ball pretending to be the Queen when they took a ride in a horse and carriage!

And when the pair went somewhere new, I’d help describe the scenery around them, and Raji could really experience and appreciate her environment.

It was a holiday full of new experiences and every evening over dinner, the group took turns to share their personal highlight of the day.

Raji’s daughter recently told me how months after the holiday, her mum still talks about the trip so fondly, and considers it one of the best experiences of her whole life!

As a Sense Holiday volunteer, you’ll meet new people, try new challenges, explore new ways of communicating and visit new places – all whilst supporting disabled people to enjoy these experiences, too. If this sounds like your kind of holiday, then why not join us this year and become a Sense Holiday volunteer.

Author: Olivia

Olivia is studying to be a British Sign Language interpreter and volunteered on a Sense summer holiday.

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