I’ve always believed that everyone has a talent; it just needs unearthing, nurturing and encouraged to blossom. A meeting with Alzheimer’s volunteers last week provided a perfect example of this very point.
Volunteering involves a myriad of talents. I suppose the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of volunteering for a charity is fundraising. I don’t have that talent. I can bake a thousand cakes but I’d want to give them all away so wouldn’t be much good at that side of things. Whereas others have this amazing talent. People in the room volunteered in many ways and is was good to hear all the different activities taking place.
The meeting brought together many people from all over North Yorkshire and it was good to hear the plans on the horizon, especially regarding the new ‘side by side’ initiative which is currently in the pilot stage. This plans to give everyone with dementia (who wants it) 1 to 1 support to continue doing something which they enjoy but may find difficult to do on their own – brilliant idea.
I was surprised how many volunteers hadn’t attended a Dementia Friends session, but they were a captive audience and there was someone there to deliver the session to those that needed it at the end of the meeting. It might be something they automatically deliver when people volunteer to join the society………
The nicest surprise of the day was meeting Barbara Woodward-Carlton. Barbara is one of the founder members of the research network volunteers of which I’m a member. It began in 1999. Barbara came to speak to the group about research network volunteers and her speech was delivered with eloquence and passion. It was so nice to meet her in person as we have had many an email conversation. I’m lucky enough to have Barbara’s support and guidance as she is the coordinator for our region.
York itself apparently underwent some major changes to the structure of the Alzheimer;s society 12-18 months ago and you could tell from those volunteers who’d been around then that this was a very challenging time. It was very disturbing to hear some volunteers say they were thinking of looking for another charity to support as they felt they were not needed in York. That shows the amount of work still to be done in the area as we need all the support we can get. The fact that they were there today shows just how committed they are to the Alzheimer’s society and I hope the area staff took note of their comments.
We all agreed that it was so nice to meet other volunteers and listen to their successes and challenges. We all went away inspired to do more and I hope the Alzheimer’s Society staff went away with ideas for improving the service in our area.