Rosie Westacott

Rosie is a trustee and fundraiser for Alzheimer's Support. She also volunteers regularly at Singing for the Brain. 

"I started volunteering at Singing for the Brain in 2013 with a friend of mine. We both sing regularly in a choir, but this isn’t essential.  What is essential is a desire to communicate with people, a willingness to join in (and sometimes look a bit daft) and a sense of fun.

In return for one morning a week of our time we get to meet the most amazing, wonderful people, to hear a little bit about their lives, to (as they kindly say) brighten up their day – and to sing as well!

Our typical session might include welcoming people, chatting to both people with dementia and their carers (for whom the singing is often a really important break in the week), making tea and coffee and, of course, singing.   

As volunteers we follow the singing teacher Caroline’s lead.  We might be joining in with gusto, leading part of a round or singing a harmony.  After learning new songs together, we sing some old favourites; it’s wonderful to watch a member who might have been quiet or closed off suddenly light up: a toe taps, a head nods, hands clap and, seemingly out of nowhere, someone who struggles to communicate ordinarily is singing along and smiling.

So, all you really need to know about being a volunteer is that you will leave every session knowing that you have been part of something extraordinary that day."

Wendy Clayton

Memory Awareness Volunteer

Hello, I'm Wendy, a 71 year old retiree.  I have a husband, three children, seven grandchildren and I play and coach bowls, which means I don't often have enough hours in the week. Certainly I never thought of volunteering.  However, one Sunday after lunch I asked my daughter-in-law, Annie, about an article she'd written for the local paper.  Alzheimer's Support were looking for volunteers to help with a new project, funded by Comic Relief. The first meeting was the next day and Annie suggested I 'come along'.  The rest is history.

My role has the title of Memory Awareness Volunteer and involves regularly attending a local GPs surgery and library, giving advice on the differences between normal ageing and dementia and signposting those needing help in the right direction. Talking to local groups is also an important part of the work - spreading the message that early diagnosis is vital. I've visited 16 groups during the last three years, this has not only been enjoyable but also very satisfying.  I also bake and help out at fundraising events.

My highlights have been some very positive write-ups in the local press, a trip to Westminster as a guest of local MP Claire Perry, and an enlightening visit to the Trowbridge Mosque. The latter showed how other groups cope, usually with no outside help, but as one lovely lady there reminded us in no uncertain terms: 'This disease is a b..... nightmare'.     Volunteering with Alzheimer’s support has reminded me to listen and to always count my blessings."  

 

Jason Leake

Cafe volunteer

"I’m a mature student at Bath University where I am studying for a PhD in fall detectors for people with dementia.  Prior to returning to education, I was a software engineer working on mobile phones.

I started volunteering when I lived in Newbury and helped at 'Gardening for the Brain'.  I really enjoyed the one-to-one chats with people who had interesting life experiences, and I learnt a lot about gardening from experts who had built up their knowledge over decades. I now help at the cafe, where I am an expert at 'washing up'. So this has also been an opportunity to learn new skills which my wife encourages me to practice at home!

Volunteering has helped me keep my research practical with an understanding of what is really important in life, by being able to talk to people with a real day-to-day experience of dementia.  My advice for new volunteers is really to just pitch in - there are always things that need to be done, and the best way of doing it is just to get on with it."