We have a brand new guest blogger that we would like to introduce to you all. Meet Rebecca, who after volunteering with our charity in her 20s is now joining our team of writers. In her first blog, Rebecca shares memories of her time as a volunteer, including the time she entertained guests as a Spice Girl and what it was for her that made her return time and time again.
Many moons ago when I was in my 20s, (I’m in my 40s now), I volunteered on three separate occasions for Revitalise, although back then they were known as ‘Winged Fellowship’. There’s nothing unusual about this of course, lots of people volunteer for Revitalise after all! The difference being, I worked full-time for a high street bank who, as part of their ‘Investors in People’ initiative allowed members of staff to volunteer ‘en masse’.
I can tell you that there wasn’t one of us from the bank who was not slightly nervous at the prospect of helping physically disabled people at Jubilee Lodge, but we needn’t have worried! The staff could not have been more welcoming and the training was fabulous (this was before we even met the guests who were arriving for their holiday to be looked after by us) with the help of permanent staff too, of course.
I remember the centre was exceptionally clean, well maintained and very well run – even the silliest of questions from us bank clerks were met with friendly, straightforward answers, so we soon settled in. Now, I won’t lie – it was an action-packed day with an early start and a late finish, but it was so much fun and full of rewards too. There were trips out to Towns, Cathedrals, Shopping Centres, Theatres, Seaside Resorts, and for those staying back at the centre for the day there were all sorts of activities, from Bingo to Arts and Crafts, Quizzes to Manicures and plenty of music and laughter.
The kitchen staff produced wonderful food, which we all ate ravenously after a busy day, and of an evening after dinner there would be entertainment in the main lounge and a residents bar there too for those who liked a tipple.
The above picture’s one I found from my time as a volunteer. If I remember rightly, on the evening that this picture was taken we all got dressed up and five of us bank volunteers entertained the guests as the Spice Girls – luckily for them we were miming! I was Posh Spice.
The guests were absolutely wonderful. It was fascinating to hear stories of their younger years and their family lives, such an inspiration us all and quite a humbling experience too. The best reward of all though was when the residents asked ‘When are you volunteering again? We’ll make sure we get booked in that week!’
It just goes to show that ‘pen-pushers’ can be adaptable too and despite the exhaustion at the end of the week, we went back for more and enjoyed the experience all over again and again.
Written by Rebecca Steers.