My experience as a volunteer for the Memory Lane Support Group

After responding to our advert in the local magazine, Claire's confidence as a volunteer has gone from strength to strength.

My experience as a volunteer for the Memory Lane Support Group

Our volunteers are the heart of Home Instead. Their kindness not only brings joy to those living with Dementia and their carers but also enriches their own lives. Together, we create a community where everyone thrives through empathy and support. We’re deeply grateful for the invaluable role our volunteers play in making this possible.

We hear from the new Chair of our Memory Lane Group, Claire, who tells us why she’s been having so much fun since signing up.

Volunteering

About a year ago, I responded to an advert in our local magazine asking for volunteers for the Memory Lane Dementia Support Group in Felixstowe. I had no experience with dementia, but the advert was asking for people to help serve refreshments and chat with those in the group. I am new to the area and retired, so I was looking to get out and meet new people whilst doing something worthwhile.

My first time at Memory Lane was quite daunting. There were a few of us starting together, but I was worried about getting things wrong and trying to fit in with the group. For that reason, the first attendance wasn’t overly enjoyable, but I knew from experience that I needed to go a few times to get the hang of it. I also had to attend a couple of training sessions around dementia and health and safety. I wasn’t alone in my initial feelings, as another volunteer also said she wasn’t sure if it was for her. But we both persevered! I don’t know when it happened exactly, but after a while, I realised I was enjoying myself there. I felt useful and after getting to know everyone, I was having a laugh.

I am now a regular volunteer at the group, taking on more responsibilities and making friends. I look forward to going each time. It’s still really busy – and we could definitely do with some more volunteers –  but I have fun, and a few laughs and I feel like I’m helping to make a positive difference. The people who attend really appreciate the time to socialise in an empathetic environment where they can relax, chat, engage in activities and get support from friends and professionals. And I help to facilitate that!

I feel so good about my newfound skills that I also now volunteer at a dementia café in Woodbridge once a month. Both groups are very different. At one I help serve food and drinks and at the other, I just sit, drink tea, chat and play games with people living with dementia, whilst their carer/partner goes off for a couple of hours.

Neither is too difficult, yet I know that this means so much more to the people attending. I am part of a team that provides a much-needed service to dementia carers. As the carers are usually the partner or son/daughter, it gives them a much-needed break. A small effort on my part has such a big effect on others. And that makes me feel good.

I would say to anyone who’s considering volunteering “Come and join us! You won’t regret it”.

Our Memory Lane groups run every Friday, alternatively at Trimley Memorial Hall, between 10 am and 12 pm, and at Felixstowe Salvation Army between 10:30 am and 1 pm.

For more information, call Wendy Chard on 01473 272301.

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