Volunteer support worker stories

Yuey in music classes

Gaining new skills and giving back to the community

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 the summer of 2021 volunteering in the Friday music classes, but when her timetable came through in September, 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 tutor Carolina’s class on Fridays is busy. She has 12 students with different learning styles and plenty of personality! For Carolina, a volunteer helps her manage her class and her 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 Carolina and Share staff, Yuey settled in well and she and Carolina developed a wonderful, close working relationship. Yuey has been able to learn from Carolina’s experiences, try things out, and has felt supported the whole way through.

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, standing in the garden, looking happy.

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.