A Very Special Guest | Angie’s Volunteering Story
Behind every holiday with Revitalise is a team of volunteers who help to give our guests and their families the break they deserve.
Angie Alexander, 70, first started volunteering for Revitalise in 1982, when it was the Winged Fellowship Trust. She answered a magazine advert looking for help, going on to enjoy many years as a volunteer – and is now a guest herself.
Angie’s story in her own words:
“I’d never had any experience with disabled people, so at first I thought what am I doing? I was about 30 years old at the time and a lot of the volunteers there were much younger, maybe 18 or 19 years old, so I was like the mum of the group!
“It was a whole new experience for me, the way everybody worked together. I shared in a dormitory with maybe five other girls. I’m quite a reserved person and I would never have chosen to share a room with anybody, so I said ‘I’m going to cope with this’ and just got on with it. It changed my life, because I gave up my work (as a manager with Abbey National) and followed a career in care.
“The highlight was meeting my husband! He was volunteering from Glasgow, and I was from Surrey, so it was a chance meeting. We have been married for 40 years now.”
“I was diagnosed with a progressive form of MS 26 years ago, when I was 44. It’s progressed slowly so I’ve been fortunate; I’ve only been in a power chair for 10 years. I was working with young people with physical and learning disabilities [when I was diagnosed] so I think that stood me in good stead for the life I live now. Before, I would have felt sorry for people in wheelchairs but, because of my career, I realise that life goes on and you can make the best of it.
“Whenever I recognise the signs that my husband needs a bit of a break [from being my carer], I will just pick up the phone and ask if there are any vacancies next week. I started going for short breaks about four times a year and I’ve been doing that for 10 years.”
“For me, having a respite break means knowing my family is having a break and knowing they’re not going to be called on. My husband can go to bed when he wants to, get up when he wants to, take the dog for a walk without thinking about it. They know that I’m somewhere where I’ll get the things I need.”
“There are a lot more accessible places now for holidays, but you still need to take your own care with you and I think Revitalise is unique. There should be more places like it all over the country.”
Volunteering for Revitalise
We all have special memories of people we meet on holiday throughout our lives, but for many guests at Revitalise centres, it’s the volunteers who help to support them that make their breaks so special. Each year we rely on an army of 1,400 volunteers from all walks of life, not just at our centres but in our shops and even our head office.
The best place to read more about volunteering with Revitalise is our website. You can also find non-residential volunteering opportunities at our centres, charity shops and central offices. Visit our volunteering page to explore the available resources and if you are interested, get in touch to start your journey.
We’d love you to say, VolunteerMe!