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A volunteer’s view

Here at Guideposts Trust we are continually grateful to our volunteers, members of the community that donate their time and skills to our services, helping out regularly to as and when they can. These volunteers can be anyone from retired nurses, neighbours and strangers to local shop keepers and university students. In each one there is a common thread, a common want – to help.

Individual skills can range from degrees in health and social care, horticultural experience and carers right the way through to a warm smile and a want to chat – each and every volunteer is as valued as each other. Without these wonderful people donating their valuable time, charities like us would struggle to continue and our communities would be left without much needed services, support and companionship. This summer our Oxfordshire services, with open arms and wide smiles, welcomed Sarah, a Psychology student from the University of East Anglia.

Sarah stayed with our Oxfordshire services throughout the summer months, and worked with our Day Centre GLADS, our Dig‘N’Grow gardeners and our OX18 socialites. We absolutely loved having Sarah working with us and will be forever grateful for her time and skills donated to our services, and we’re so excited to have her back with us at Christmas. On leaving us in September to return back to University, Sarah left a short account of her time here, and we’d like to share it.

Not only will it provide an insight into the experience of volunteering, but we hope it will encourage those considering volunteering to take that next step and get in touch, whether it’s with us or another local charity close to your heart.

Over to you Sarah…

Volunteering with Guideposts | Summer 2018 Sarah, Psychology Student

Over the summer months I have been lucky enough to work with the staff and service-users at Guideposts. It has not only been the most rewarding work I have done, but also taught me so much about day-to-day life for those living with a learning disability.

“I have been especially struck by the enthusiasm and caring manner shown by all members of the group.”

As a Psychology student at the University of East Anglia, it has been lovely getting up to things I don’t normally get the chance to do during term-time. Activities I’ve taken part in have ranged from swimming, dancing and curling, to trips to the local pub, to making cakes for afternoon tea with everyone in Guideposts. I have been especially struck by the enthusiasm and caring manner shown by all members of the group. The friendships formed are so genuine and the welcome I received made joining the team for the summer so much easier.

“Not only are the members of the services so welcoming, but there is also a clear sense of contentment and safety within the services.”

This is partly down to the amazing team of support workers.

As with everything in life, there are good days and less so positive days. Situations that may turn into something that need dealing with are handled incredibly smoothly. This is alongside keeping the disruption to the rest of the group to a minimum. Members of GLADs, Dig ‘n’ Grow and OX18 (the social club for adults with learning disabilities) have taught me so much about what it can mean to have a learning disability in society. Whilst some members of the public respond appropriately, others can find it more challenging.

“To me this demonstrates that there is a continuous need for awareness to be raised to ensure adults with learning disabilities are not discriminated against compared with other members of society.”

Finally, I am over the moon that a crossing and lowered curb has been put in place on the road between Guidepost services, including GLADs, and the rest of the town. It’s so warming to know that all members of Guideposts can finally make it over the road safely. I am so pleased the years of protesting has finally paid off! Until next time, I wish everyone at Guideposts the best and look forward to seeing you all again at Christmas!

Sarah xx

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