We are very lucky to have a group of volunteers who support Halesworth Day Service. Our volunteers certainly bring a lot to the service – it may be specific skills that they can share, their time (which allows us to offer more support and 1:1 time to the people we support), as well as adding to the diversity of our team with their differing personalities, experiences, and interests.
Having a number of volunteers means that each of the volunteers brings something different to benefit our service – more often than not, this is their hobbies and interests.
For example, Neil has great carpentry skills, which we put to good use – he helps to carry out repairs to the furniture that has been donated to us to recycle. He also supports the people we support with woodwork projects, such as making bug boxes and book ends, enabling us to add to the range of items we have for sale in our shop and allowing the people we support the opportunity to learn different skills.
As well as his knowledge, another big thing he brings to the team is the fact that he’s male! Our staff team is all female, so it is nice to have a male volunteer and there are always lots of people we support who are eager to work with Neil!
Kay, another of our volunteers, enjoys needlecraft and has some craft skills (such as crochet) that our staff team do not have. She has worked alongside two of the people we support who had crochet skills that they wanted to develop. We also benefit from her sharing patterns and tips with us from craft projects that she has completed.
She has spent time with one gentleman, showing him how to use the sewing machine. By placing the pedal on the table and showing him how to operate it with his hand, this gave him more control over the speed of the machine and he was able to make the connection between pressing the pedal and seeing the needle move. He commented at his review that he enjoyed using the machine with Kay – it is unusual to get such specific feedback from him.
For some of our volunteers, this is the first time they have spent time with a person with a learning disability. However, they bring their hobbies, interests and experience from throughout their lives into the role and the service, making for a wonderful collection of skills that can be shared with the people we support.
If you haven’t got experience with people with a learning disability, please don’t let this put you off volunteering with Mencap – we’re on the lookout for people who have skills and hobbies they can share. Why not see whether you could share the skills and hobbies that you have with people with a learning disability in your area?
It might be that you’re a budding musician, or you might enjoy going to gigs. You could be someone who enjoys going to the cinema, knitting in your spare time, doing woodwork, going for long walks, watching the football, or watching nature.
If you think you have skills, hobbies or interests that you could share with the people we support in our services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, why don’t you check out our current volunteer opportunities in your local area? You might just find that there is a role out that matches your hobby.
If there isn’t a role that matches your hobby, please get in touch – we might have people who live in your local area who would love to share this hobby, but haven’t yet explored the opportunity of having a volunteer.