Volunteer stories

Yuey, volunteer in music classes

Yuey studies Forensic Psychology at Kingston University. She wanted to volunteer to support her university learning, and to gain experience working with different people. When she saw that she could do all of this at Share in our music programme, she knew it was the role for her.

Yuey spent a summer volunteering in the Friday music classes, but when her university timetable came through for the academic year, her Fridays weren’t free anymore, so Yuey now volunteers in her holidays.

She said, 'I love coming to Share on a Friday to see everyone.'

About Music at Share

Share music classes are busy; we have around 12 students with different learning styles and plenty of personality! Volunteers help our music tutors manage the class and their teaching time, 'Yuey’s support makes a massive difference'.  Yuey shares her musical knowledge with students and helps them complete activities. She also supports the class socially, she's a friendly face and someone students can chat to.

What do our students say about Yuey?

Danny enjoyed seeing Yuey in music class and he’s happy she'll be part of the team over the summer holidays. Danny said that Yuey is helpful and positive, he said, 'I like music; I like Robbie Williams; Star Wars; and Yuey.' A great combination!

What does Yuey get out of volunteering?

On her first day, Yuey was feeling apprehensive because like many new volunteers, she’d never worked with adults with learning disabilities before. Meeting all the students, Yuey was worried she’d do something wrong, or find the role too hard. However, with support from Share staff, Yuey settled in well and she developed a wonderful, close working relationship with our music tutor. Yuey has been able to learn from the tutor’s experiences, and feel supported to try things out.

Yuey found that all staff were friendly and helpful, plus there was plenty of communication from the volunteering team who regularly check in and keep in touch. This, and the volunteer social events, helped Yuey meet new people and feel like she isn’t ‘just a volunteer’, she's a real part of the team at Share. Like all our volunteers, Yuey's contribution to Share is considerable, and we value her personality, skills, and experience.

Looking ahead: a long-term connection for Yuey and music at Share

Yuey initially thought that once she’d gained some experience, it would be time to move on to new things. But, after getting to know everyone at Share, Yuey would like to stick around, saying, 'It’s such a nice community atmosphere, it’s a great place to come on a Friday and spend time with everyone. I’d even like to come back post-graduation.'

We want volunteers to get back as much as they put in. Volunteering isn’t just about giving up your time for a good cause, it's a great way to meet people, try something new and improve your skills.


Mike at the Share garden, blooming rewarding!

After spending many years stuck behind a desk, Mike wanted to find a way to have a positive impact in his community. So in late 2021, after quitting his job and having more free time, he joined Share to support our Tuesday horticulture classes. For Mike, watching our students grow their skills and confidence is, ‘the highlight of my week’.

Share Nurseries – growing plants, growing skills

At the garden some students prefer tasks like mowing or pruning and some prefer harvesting vegetables. It can be hard making sure everyone gets dedicated time to support their learning. When Florence, our Garden Manager, knows Mike is coming in, she can breathe a sigh of relief knowing his support will be there. And our garden staff couldn’t speak more highly of Mike, his patience, reliability, intuition, support, and of course his kind and warm personality, have made a huge impact on everyone at Share.

'Coming to the Garden is the best day of my week.'

Mike’s incredible support for Share students

Maxwell is a friendly, energetic, and hardworking horticulture student who loves his music. He enjoys working alongside Mike, and together they’ve been landscaping and planting a flowerbed. Mike’s gardening knowledge, and his gentle support mean that Maxwell is now so confident working with the compost and planting that he says to Mike, 'Let me take care of it'! And thanks to Maxwell and Mike, the Garden site looked beautiful in time for Share’s annual garden party.

Maxwell in the garden

Personal Impact for Mike, joining a team and seeing results

The garden is a large site, there’s always plenty to do and sometimes things can feel overwhelming. When Mike started volunteering, he got stuck straight in and and quickly flourished with the support of the horticulture tutors. Now he feels settled in his role and very much a part of the team at Share. He knows how much difference he makes to students' lives, whether it’s watching someone gain new skills, become more confident, or blossom in their training. Plus, he gets a real sense of satisfaction watching the garden and its students, quite literally, bloom!

Making a difference, we could not do it without YOU

Mike has given over 120 hours to Share in his first six months, an amazing contribution to support adults with learning disabilities and autism to gain horticulture skills, enjoy nature, and ultimately live the life they choose. Florence, our Garden Development Manager, says, 'I have so much respect for our volunteers, helping out and keeping things running at the garden, because it can be challenging.'

There are so many ways to get involved at the garden, as long as you’re keen to get your hands dirty, and support disabled people to become more independent, there’s a role for you.


Rory, volunteer befriender

Rory meets up weekly with one of our members - Michael, to chat and cycle around Michael’s local park. Over lockdown, Michael regularly met with our outreach worker Louis to cycle around Battersea park. As our lockdown outreach project came to a close, Michael wanted to continue the visits so we matched him with Rory who also loves to cycle. Together they’ve been getting on their bikes once a week, come rain or shine.

Michael said, ‘I like cycling around Battersea Park, it's nice. I like looking at the swans and cygnets.’

Over lockdown, we saw the impact that prolonged periods of isolation have had on those who are vulnerable within our community and how facilitating like-minded people to connect and get out can be really positive. We try to offer a space in the community for people to feel more socially connected, make positive choices, build healthy relationships, work towards goals, and become healthier and more independent.

Rory and our other befrienders support members to maintain positive mental health and encourage communication on meaningful topics or shared interests, helping promote positive outlooks and raised confidence.

We caught up with Rory:

Why do you like volunteering at Share?

‘I like volunteering at Share as I have had the opportunity to meet lots of great people who I may not have met in my normal circles. Being part of the Share community has allowed me to change and improve my usual daily routine, as well as simply giving me a great reason to get out of the house during these testing times!’

What’s your favourite thing about being a volunteer befriender?

‘My favourite thing about being a befriender is being able to positively impact on someone's life. It only takes me a couple of hours a week and is completely worth it as I'm able to spend time with Michael doing something he might not normally do, last week we rode our bikes around the park, which was a treat for both of us - certainly a welcome break from work for me!’

What have you learnt from volunteering?

‘I wanted to get involved in the project as I wanted to give back to the community. I've learnt a lot about adults with learning disabilities and befriending, and look forward to learning Makaton and first aid in the future. One of the best surprises for me with befriending is just how supportive my work have been. I work for a financial services company and expected it to be a little trickier to get the time to volunteer, but my boss and the company have been hugely helpful in allowing me to take the time to do it. I'd urge anyone who is unsure about whether they can fit befriending around work to simply ask if it's possible, you might be surprised!’


Angela and Lucy, Share & Trinity Hospice charity shop

As well as attending Share, Angela volunteers once a week at a local Trinity Hospice Charity Shop on Clapham High Street.

She’s been volunteering at the shop for several years and loves it. Sadly, due to the pandemic, the shop had to shut in line with government guidelines and Angela really missed her time there. To help her back to the shop after lockdown Share matched Angela with a volunteer befriender called Lucy.

Lucy meets Angela at Share every week before they wander down together to the charity shop. Whilst there Lucy offers Angela a bit of company and a helping hand. Before resuming her volunteering role Angela said, ‘I’m looking forward to going back to normal, it’s been a long time in lockdown and I heard the shop has reopened and I want to return.’

We caught up with Angela after her first day back:

What do you do when you get to the shop?  

‘I take my coat off, go to the back of shop and start steaming and ironing the clothes, then I put the iron back. Then I go to the front of the shop to sort out the clothes, labelling them and arranging the bags and jewellery.’

What do you like about volunteering?

‘I like meeting different people.’

What have you learnt during your time volunteering?

‘Getting to know what to do with work, it’s important to have a nice attitude, be nice to people and talk to them, be happy and friendly.’

What do you think about Lucy coming with you?

‘It’s great, a really good thing that she’s doing for me. She has a nice personality, I can talk to her, she’s friendly and listens to what you have to say.’

What advice would you give people that want to volunteer but have never done it before?

‘I would go up to that person and ask them if they would like to have a job and what sort of job, I would then say you are doing well and you should go for it.’

Employability skills and a pathway to employment are integral elements of Share's training and support services. Volunteering opportunities can be a really important step for people with learning disabilities to progress towards employment and become more socially included in their communities.