NAC Stories: Spotlight On Volunteering

Sue Gooding, NAC member and Trust Volunteer, reviews past and present volunteering within the Trustvolunteer needed

We explore how volunteering within the Trust has changed and evolved over the years, and what volunteer opportunities are now available.

“There used to be a group of ‘Volunteer Visitors’, but there is now an array of opportunities to volunteer to assist beneficiaries,” explains Volunteer Coordinator Annabelle Blackham. “These draw on the wealth of different skills beneficiaries have to offer and enable individuals to learn new skills.

Annabelle continues: Beneficiary volunteers come into volunteering for a variety of reasons. Some have retired and, with more time on their side, want to get more involved with the beneficiary community. Others come to volunteering with a particular skill they wish to use to assist others. Stuart’s experience, shared here, shows the difference that volunteering can make.”

Finding out about volunteeringThalidomide Trust volunteer Stuart McLeod

New volunteer, Stuart McLeod, says that a conversation with Dr Susan Brennan sparked his interest in volunteering. Stuart has always adapted items for himself to make his life easier. This skill combined with an interest in helping others inspired him to want to get involved. He also chatted with current volunteers about the satisfaction they get from being involved.

Applying to become a volunteer

Stuart applied to be a Technical Volunteer for Aids and Adaptations. This involved completing an application form and attending an interview with a current volunteer and the Trust’s Volunteer Coordinator, Annabelle.

He found the prospect of an interview daunting initially, having not been through the process for a while, but he soon relaxed and was able to discuss what skills he could share to assist beneficiaries. Stuart’s listening and problem-solving skills are particular strengths he brings to his role.

Being a volunteer

Stuart’s volunteering role takes up little time. It's not arduous, as it is doing something he enjoys. There is always support from Trust staff, but it is the support and encouragement from other volunteers that Stuart feels he has really benefited from. It has seen him re-connecting with people he hasn’t seen since his teenage years. Life in general meant Stuart had lost contact with beneficiaries he had attended the same hospital as, and Society events many years ago.

Benefits of volunteering

Stuart is finding the experience of volunteering rewarding and satisfying. He is enjoying feeling part of the community again, sharing knowledge and relating with others who deal with everyday challenges as he does. This, in turn, has reduced the feeling that he is the only person in the world dealing with a particular hurdle, which can be isolating. Stuart feels his confidence has improved since starting his volunteering role.

How can you find out more?

If you want to find out more about volunteering at the Trust, get in touch with Annabelle by calling 01480 474074 or email. She can send you the Volunteer Pack, tell you more about the different roles that we now have. If it would be helpful she can also put you in touch with an existing volunteer.

Alternatively you can use the link on the right to download the Volunteer Pack from the website.

If you think an aid or adaptation might help you with an everyday task, please get in touch with the Trust via email or call 01480 474074 and we’ll start the ball rolling to find out what would work for you.

Read more from the NAC in the full Winter 2022 Newsletter (PDF)