Volunteering with Sense:Rebekah Russell

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 with deafblind children would be new to me. I thought it could be a perfect opportunity for me to gain new skills and experiences to benefit my future career as I work towards becoming a paediatric Occupational Therapist, demonstrating how even outside of my course I am striving to develop myself as a healthcare professional – perfect for my Continuing Professional Development portfolio!

As a group of 4 children, 5 volunteers and 1 experienced holiday leader we spent a week exploring the local attractions of Wiltshire, from Legoland to strawberry picking, and enjoying swimming in the pool at our cottage. During the holiday, I developed my Makaton and communication skills, became confident in supporting each child as an individual, learning how to manage their environment to keep them happy, and how to calm them when they felt overwhelmed. Most importantly I encouraged the holidaymaker I was paired with over the week to engage in the world around her and watch her joy as she did.

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I couldn’t have hoped to work with a more amazing bunch of volunteers; we were such a strong and positive team from the moment we arrived. Cheesy as it sounds, it was like a family. I have so many fond memories of my Sense holiday; as you’d expect, it had its challenges at times, but they were certainly outweighed by the smiles and laughs. Will I be back next year? 100% yes.

 

Rebekah Russell, Student Occupational Therapist and Sense Volunteer

 

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. You can find out more information about the work we do and how you can get involved by visiting

 

Sense Holidays on the UCSU Volunteering Platform

 

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Volunteering with Girl Guiding UK by Elizabeth Nutbrown

I have been part of Girl Guiding since the age of 7 (a Brownie). When I was 18 I completed my Adult Leadership qualification which allowed me to run my own Rainbow (5-7), Brownie (7-10) or Guide (10-14) groups. Currently, I run a Rainbow group in Lancaster alongside some other students!

Each week is different, from craft activities to abseiling to camps! I love volunteering with Girl Guiding because you can see how much the girls are gaining out of the activities that you have organised and are partaking in with them. It allows for life long skills to be gained in a safe, girl only environment. I also feel that I have gained a lot out of volunteering. I have made many friends, gained leadership skills, first aid qualifications etc.

Recently, I have been accepted to go to Switzerland for summer 2017 volunteering at ‘Our Chalet’ with Girl Guiding in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The chalet is one of four Girl Guiding’s World Centres, the others are in Mexico, India and London. They were set up to allow guides to meet other guides from all around the world. All Guides and Brownies can visit the centres to complete a range of activities (hiking, town trips, canoeing etc) alongside different groups from different countries. My position will allow me to lead groups of up to 50 children on these activities and to ensure their stay is fantastic!

However, I was concerned as to how I would fund this experience. Although my board is provided by Girl Guiding I still have to fund extra activities and travel. I applied through the SU for support from the Eleanor Peel Trust (https://www.ucsu.me/volunteerfunding). I was lucky enough to receive £300 towards my trip which will be really helpful! If you are thinking of volunteering abroad, I would really recommend looking into this.

Also, if you are interested in volunteering with Girl Guiding yourself in any area then their website has a lot of information and details of who to contact- https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/get-involved/.