After an accident left me with some mobility issues, I felt a strong desire to support people with disabilities. Since then I have worked and volunteered with adults and young people with physical and learning disabilities. Volunteering on a Sense Holiday was an incredible experience.
Volunteering on a Sense Holiday is an unforgettable experience. Not only did I make friends with Jai, an amazing kid I supported to have a brilliant holiday, but I also became friends with like-minded volunteers like Jonny, who was also there to support disabled children with complex communication needs.
Whilst I was studying for my A-Levels, I decided to gain some extra experience volunteering on a Sense Holiday. It seemed like a great way to achieve my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. But I never imagined I’d come away with the experience, memories and bond I developed with Michael, the young man I supported. Looking back, it was through a mutual love of music that enabled me and Michael to connect and communicate.
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.
Volunteering on a Sense Holiday with Zead was such a great memory. Zead is an enthusiastic 15 year old who loves spending time with other young people. He enjoys trips to the beach and zoo, and he’s always keen to try new things.
This week we took four young people with autism and sensory impairments to the Birmingham Hippodrome for the ‘relaxed performance’ of Cinderella, and what a night it was!
The trip was organised by Sense’s Get Out There Group in Warwickshire, which takes young people aged 0-18 years old into the community with the aim of boosting confidence and social skills, as well as reducing isolation and giving parents and carers respite.
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.
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.
Sense are always so welcoming, they ensure all the volunteers are well prepared and ready to support the holidaymakers.
I’d never worked with any blind people before, but Sense provided training – such as teaching us how to safely guide blind people – so I felt really 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.
There’s a number of opportunities to volunteer on our summer holidays.
We’re particularly looking to recruit men and people with British Sign Language (BSL) skills for our holidays in August.