Why I volunteered for Sense for 25 years

Woman supporting a young girl in a pink tube down a slopeI 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.

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My volunteering experience at TouchBase South East

A woman standing in a cafe
Leila volunteering at Cafe 55, TouchBase South East

Leila, who is deafblind, is a Sense ambassador and volunteers at the community cafe in TouchBase South East. TouchBase South East is one of Sense’s flagship resource centres in Barnet, Hertfordhire. The centre supports people who are deafblind and those with complex needs. In this blog, Leila talks about how much she loves volunteering.


Wow, I’m really happy to volunteer at Sense’s Touch Base South East cafe in High Barnet.

Clare Webb helped me and I’m happy to work there on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month.

I started volunteer work at Touch Base SE cafe on January 2017. The lady names are Tracy, Dada and Monica. They are very nice and friendly. Sadly Monica now have leave sense so we have a new chef lady whose name is Jasmine, she is very nice and friendly. Tracy gave me an apron with cafe 55 on it I am very happy, also I will have ID soon.

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My experience volunteering on a Sense holiday

Smiling man and boy in climbing helmets on cargo net

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.


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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?

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Volunteering gave me new skills and increased my confidence

Jodie and a holiday maker looking at a snake
Jodie and a holiday maker looking at a snake on a Sense Holiday

If someone asked me whether they should volunteer with Sense, I would say just do it! Volunteering on a Sense holiday helped me develop valuable additional skills I now use as a newly qualified nurse. And being able to support a person with disabilities so they could have an amazing holiday was a really rewarding experience.

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My day volunteering at the Royal Parks Half Marathon

Emma, Leila & Sally volunteering
Emma, Leila & Sally volunteering

My name is Leila Touak. I am deafblind and a Sense Ambassador.

I really like volunteering and I enjoy being part of Sense events that happen during the year. This is my day volunteering at the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London.

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Adventure, music and movie nights for young people with sensory impairments

Boy and support worker laughing
Young people having fun at our short break

Eighteen young people with sensory impairments from Birmingham enjoyed an exciting short break away from home in late August. These week-long short breaks were arranged as part of a partnership between Sense and Birmingham City Council.

The short breaks took place in Macaroni Wood, Gloucestershire and Standon Bowers Activity Centre, Staffordshire. Each location specialises in a range of engaging and challenging activities, allowing young people to play and explore safely.

The young people tried new activities including music workshops, trips to wildlife parks, movie nights, archery, potholing and high ropes.

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Tower Hamlets Summer Holiday Club – A volunteer’s perspective

The Parachute Game
The Parachute Game

Success in projects such as the Tower Hamlets Summer Holiday Club lies with the staff and volunteers who make it happen.

As the Holiday Club came to its conclusion, I spoke with volunteer Sabrina Simmen, 28 from Switzerland, who volunteered on the final week of the programme. We found out how she became a volunteer, discussed her expectations and what she learnt from the experience.

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Summer holidays week five: Go-karting, zorbing, climbing and canoeing…

And adult and child reaching the top of a high climbing wall
Scaling new heights on the climbing wall at Macaroni Wood

After five weeks of action and adventure, our summer holidays programme has come to a close – and what a final week it was!

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Tower Hamlets Summer Holiday Club – Interview with holiday club leader Claire Farris

A sports activity at the Tower Hamlets Holiday Club
Sports activity at the Tower Hamlets Holiday Club

Our Tower Hamlets Summer Holiday Club ran through August and allowed children and young people aged 5-17 with a range of complex disabilities, including dual sensory loss, to take part in a range of activities, that otherwise would not be accessible to them.

Whilst volunteering for the final days, I took time out to ask holiday leader Claire Farris her thoughts on the Holiday Club, the successes and challenges that she encountered.

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