Celebrating our fantastic volunteers for National Volunteering Week 2016

As National Volunteers Week (1st-10th June) comes to an end, we celebrate some of the volunteer stories we've been sharing over the week - come meet just a glimpse of the volunteers that help keep our organisation running!

Did you know that we have 180 volunteers across Henshaws? We chat to just some of them about how they got involved and what volunteering means to them.

“Working with Henshaws has taught me to expect the unexpected”

Rob, volunteers at the Rob community hubManchester Community Hub for our Hiking Group and Wednesday Group. Recently Rob even ran the marathon for Team Henshaws – his 13th marathon ever no less! – and he shares his experience of volunteering:

“Working with Henshaws has taught me to expect the unexpected. Since applying for an IT buddy role there has been no more discussion about it!! Instead I have been encouraged to take on leader roles in the two groups I work with. Both roles continue to be very rewarding and they have given me insights into just how incredible people can be. I am amazed by how people in both groups just get on with things. My advice to others thinking of volunteering with Henshaws is – just do it! The more enthusiasm you have the more you will get out of it. As a bonus you will get to meet some really great and interesting people too.”

“The thing I enjoy most about volunteering at Henshaws is getting to know new people”

Rachel has been a volunteer at our Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough for 8 years now! Rachel has a learning disability and supports other people with disabilities to take part in our paper, beauty and wellbeing and multi-sensory workshops. She says:

Rachel ACC“My support worker told me about Henshaws and helped me to find out how to become a volunteer. I came into the Arts & Crafts Centre and had a meeting with the volunteer coordinator. I really enjoyed having a tour of the centre with one of the tour guides. This is something that I now do for other visitors.

Over the last year I have also been able to join the Henshaws Triathalon team and compete in Skipton, swimming 16 lengths, which was brilliant. In November I applied to be a contestant for Henshaws Got Talent and got through to the final round.

The thing I enjoy most about volunteering at Henshaws is getting to know new people and being able to help them. Without Henshaws I would be sitting at home with nothing to do and I wouldn’t have all the friends I have met over the last 8 years.”

“There are many successes to celebrate, large and small, which make me feel very proud.”

Help desk manchester eye hospitalOur information desk at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital is run by volunteers, who are pivotal in being the first point of call for people who have just been diagnosed with sight loss. One of our volunteers Helen Brazier says about her experience, “Back in 2014, I had some free time and wanted to do something different. I discovered that Henshaws were looking for volunteers to help at the hospital and I have been part of Henshaws’ volunteer team at the hospital ever since.

Through volunteering, I found out about and participated in various other activities, gradually getting to know more about the organisation and ending up as a Trustee. There are many successes to celebrate, large and small, which make me feel very proud. I am deeply struck by the practical support that Henshaws offers and the warm relationships that are formed with and between service users. At College I was impressed with the facilities and the infectious energy of the students, while the friendliness and creativity at Arts & Crafts Centre was a revelation. Community Services has a huge reach across the north of England and changes the lives of thousands of people for the better every day.”

“You really gain far more than you give. It’s a win–win situation”

Image of the whole group singingSusan runs our monthly Luncheon Club, a social club where members meet up once a month to chat and enjoy a meal made by Trafford College’s hospitality students. She shares her experience:

“I’d always known of Henshaws as the old school building at White City was a well know landmark on the trip into Manchester.  My time working at Henshaws enabled me to see the very important work the charity did for visually impaired people of all ages.

My involvement with the Luncheon Club has given me the satisfaction of knowing that I am helping three lots of people – the people that Henshaws supports by raising money for them;  the lovely people who come each month to the club, enjoy a good meal, have a chat with old and new friends and also helps the students at Trafford College with their training.  I can say I’ve gained so much and made a lot of new friends.  It’s definitely not a decision I’ve regretted.

I would say to anyone thinking of volunteering with Henshaws to firstly not be frightened by thinking you can’t do it. You really gain far more than you give.  It’s a win – win situation.”

“The thing I enjoy most about volunteering at Henshaws is the interaction I have with the Art Makers”

Fiona ACCFiona Odle is an artist/illustrator based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Fiona most recently has illustrated a series of children’s books written by her mum.

Fiona has volunteered with us for 9 months in both the jewellery and art studio, working with mosaics, painting and 3D model making. She has been offering support to Wesley, one of our Art Makers, working with him to develop his project based around anything ‘minion’ related. They have nearly finished this and are now slowly progressing to the next project which is themed around Shrek!

Fiona heard about Henshaws many years ago as she has always been a supporter of the arts locally and has taken part in art workshops at the centre over the year. She recently volunteered for feva festival and decided she would like to give more time to engaging with our Art Makers within a workshop setting.

Fiona said: “The thing I enjoy most about volunteering at Henshaws is the interaction I have with the Art Makers. They are the only people in the whole world that think I’m funny! We all have a lot of fun in the art studio and I enjoy the feeling of fulfillment I get from this.”

Thank you to all our brilliant volunteers for giving up their time so generously to Henshaws – we wouldn’t be able to do it without you! If you know a volunteer you’d like to celebrate or have a story of your own, please share them with us at stories@henshaws.org.uk. Or if you’re interested in volunteering, please visit our volunteers web page to find out more.

We can't do it without you

Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

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