Volunteering on a Sense Holiday: Aleema’s Story

What’s your name and what you do?

Aleema Latif . I’m a 3rd Year Nursing Student at The University of Birmingham.

Why did you volunteer on the holiday?

I chose this as my elective placement as part of my Nursing course to gain insight into supporting people with complex communicational needs

Who or what has inspired you to take part in the holiday? Someone you know personally or someone you’ve met through Sense?

The Sense representative at a University careers fair inspired me to take part in the Dense Holiday as it allows for me to gain new experiences and broaden my knowledge of supporting people with complex needs (my degree integrates adult, child and mental health, but not multi-sensory impairments).

The Sense Holiday enticed me as it is a different atmosphere to being in healthcare settings, located in Sketch House exploring London and it’s main tourist attractions. As well as, supporting holidaymakers to have a fun and enjoyable experience. I also had an interest in wanting to learn Basic Sign Language to assist with patient with communication difficulties in healthcare settings.

What impact did you think the holiday had on the people who we support?

The holiday allows holidaymakers to experience a new location and take part in new activities they may not experience otherwise. For example, on my Sketch House Holiday the holidaymakers has the opportunity to visit Sea Life Centre, Madame Tussaud’s, the London Eye and so many more. We used a range of different transport options such as the train, tram, taxi, bus, and a canal boat to Venice. My holidaymaker had not experienced these activities so it was a good experience to try new things and ensure my holidaymaker was happy and interested in the holiday as much as possible.

Why do you think Sense holidays are so important for the families of the people going on the holiday?

Sense Holidays allow holidaymaker to have a fun and enjoyable experience in a different location from where they live. Also, holidaymakers have the opportunity to try new things from activities to food to transport. This increases their awareness and experience to try new things and make new connections with other holidaymakers and the volunteers. Although, there are small groups of holidaymakers the experience is adjusted to meet each holidaymakers individual needs and interests. Also, this allows holidaymakers to have time away from their families so their family can also have time to focus on themselves yet knowing their child is in a safe and fun environment.

What help and support did you get from the holidays team?

The holidays team provide training prior to the holiday and provide all the relevant information required in the Sense booklet to provide guidance on different situations. Also, the holidays team were made available for a large majority of the time if required. Also, the holiday leader was supportive and attentive to the volunteers experience as well as the holidaymakers.

Is going on a Sense holiday brand new for you or have you done anything similar before with another organisation?

The Sense Holiday was a brand new experience for me and a change from Nursing placements based in hospitals or community healthcare settings.

Was there anything about the holiday that was particularly challenging for you?

The initial adjustment to the environment and the use of BSL was challenging at first, but I was determined to learn basic phrases and terms. By the end of my holiday I had learnt how to sign the alphabet and sign many different phrases I used whilst on the holiday (mostly foods and transport).

If you’ve been on a Sense holiday before, what was it that encouraged you to come back and volunteer for Sense again?

It was my first time volunteering for Sense and I intend to volunteer again.

If someone was interested in volunteering for a Sense holiday, but wasn’t 100% sure, what would you say to convince them?

Sense Holidays are a unique, invaluable and enjoyable experience to support people with complex multi sensory needs. The sense of satisfaction is immeasurable to know you have helped someone have a new, fun and enjoyable experience they may not have without Sense Holidays. Not to mention the opportunity to visit tourist attractions (London Eye, Madame Tussaud’s, Sea Life Centre), and have experienced such as a Canal Boat to Venice and shopping in Camden markets.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the people you supported, or their family?

I have really enjoyed my experience with Sense and it’s an experience I would never forget.  I hope my holidaymaker also felt fully supported and benefited from being on the holiday.  It was good to get to know my holidaymaker and cater the holiday to meet her needs and interests.


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!  Find out how you can be a volunteer for our Sense Holidays by clicking here.

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