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?
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.
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