There are many ways to volunteer, but Sam Killingworth has found a unique one. The 20 year-old-student is a volunteer for Sense Holidays, a programme that provides week-long summer breaks to children and adults with sight and hearing impairments.
Sam’s work as a volunteer involves supporting the holidaymakers to try something new, make friends and have a lot of fun. The pharmacy student spent his first Sense holiday last year at an accessible farm in Norfolk. He supported young adults to enjoy a range of activities from swimming and bowling to riding on a steam railway and spending sunny afternoons at the beach.
Sam was inspired to volunteer by his dad who had Multiple Sclerosis and sadly passed away recently.
“I started volunteering after my dad passed away, as I wanted to do something selfless to help others. I know it sounds like a cliché but it’s extremely rewarding seeing the difference you can make to someone’s day-to-day life.
“There was a young man in our group last year who went swimming for the first time – I’ll never forget the joy we all felt seeing him swimming independently after the first couple of days. It might not seem very impressive. But it’s not about that – it’s about supporting people to do the things that most of us take for granted.”
Volunteering also helps Sam gain valuable skills for his future work as a health professional. He added:
“Before volunteering I didn’t appreciate there are different ways to communicate beyond formal language. Now I feel I’ve built up the confidence to interact with people who can’t express themselves in a conventional way, and that’s an invaluable skill for anyone working with vulnerable people.”
In 2015 Sense plans to run 22 week-long summer holidays across England and Wales for over 100 deafblind children and adults. The programme is completely dependent on volunteers who, like Sam, provide one-to-one support to deafblind people while enjoying a free week-long summer holiday and gaining valuable volunteering experience.
If you’d like to volunteer for Sense Holidays visit www.sense.org.uk/content/volunteering-sense-holiday, call 0300 330 9250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sense is a national charity that has supported and campaigned for children and adults who are deafblind for 60 years. There are currently around 250,000 deafblind people in the UK. Sense provides specialist information, advice and services to deafblind people, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them. We run services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information: www.sense.org.uk