Hi, my name is Heidi and I volunteer at The Retreat Memory Café in Soundwell. I’ve been here since October 2017 and my role involves getting the café set up, putting flowers on the table, sorting the craft activity – things like colouring or pebble painting, organising the singing activity and generally talking with everyone.
I got involved because I saw a leaflet looking for volunteers to help with the Memory Café and I thought it sounded like a really nice thing to be part of. So I enquired – and nearly two years later, I’m still here and loving it!
I’m definitely a people person. I love talking, listening and sharing. I get a real feel good factor doing something that brightens up people’s lives. Some people can get quite emotional during the sessions. Others just want to sit and listen. Everyone is at a different stage with their dementia but its great they feel comfortable being here.
Carers meet other carers here too and can talk about what they are going through and share advice. This makes it a very positive place to be. I love engaging with the whole group and knowing that even if just for a few hours they had a good time. I learn lots too.
When I started, I had lots of support. I had an induction at the beginning and training on specific protocols. Winsome keeps me updated on how things are moving forward.
If someone told me they were interested in volunteering with Southern Brooks, I’d say definitely go for it. I’ve gained so much in terms of confidence boosting, learning new skills and being able to use the creative skills I already have. Working with people with dementia and their carers is such a positive and rewarding thing to do. You’re helping bring people together and feel less isolated, if only for a few hours. Seeing their faces light up when they talk about their school days or sing a song they remember is more than enough reward!
Anna Molter’s Story
I’m a senior associate at Barcan + Kirby. After attending a Dementia Friendly workshop, I was so inspired by the efforts of others and the dementia friendly initiative, I thought my firm had to get involved.
I decided to become a Dementia Friend and then a Dementia Friends Champion so I could deliver information sessions to all of our staff. I introduced this initiative to our partners at my firm and they embraced it. Becoming a Dementia Friend is now part of our induction programme for all new staff.
My firm has offices across Bristol and South Gloucestershire, so it is important we show our commitment to the initiative by joining both Dementia Action Alliances. Our firm is working towards being Dementia Action Alliances. Our firm is working towards being dementia friendly. We’ve looked at our office space and reception areas to make them as dementia friendly as possible. We’ve introduced different signage to assist people living with dementia when attending our offices. We’ve also changed our literature to make it more dementia friendly.
By joining the Dementia Action Alliances we’re showing our commitment to the initiative. Out clients and those in our communities can see we’re committed to being dementia friendly and that we welcome all clients who attend our offices.