A Week in The Life of a Volunteer at New Larchwood

We recently published a big thank you to our volunteers at New Larchwood. Student volunteer Leila, has been with us for a while now, on a placement working with older people as a part of her Social Policy studies. She has made an amazing contribution and has been running loads of activities for the residents during her time with us, here she tells us a bit more about the activities she gets involved in…

“Volunteering at New Larchwood is not just rewarding but entertaining as well, as each week is different from the others. My week starts off on a Tuesday where I help run the coffee morning, this is an opportunity for residents and the outside community to come together and relax. Every month there is a specific coffee morning aimed at helping people who live with dementia. Everyone comes together and reminisces of their fond memories from their childhood, and this is normally assisted with talks from the Alzheimer’s society or an entertainer who sings songs from the 1950’s onwards. This week there was a singer who performed a mixture of songs which the residents love and all sang along. There were around 15 residents who came. Some with family members and some by themselves but everyone joined in. Not only does this run on a Tuesday but a gentle exercise class also takes place in the afternoon. This aims at helping people who have little mobility to get their joints moving, all the exercises are chair based to accommodate everyone. Overall there are 5 residents who regularly attend but also 2 members from the community who come to socialise and learn more about exercises that can be done within the group and at home.

On a Wednesday afternoon there is a boccia class. This is run by a volunteer who was originally a placement student but loved this group so much she decided to stay for over a year. This activity involves sitting down and rolling a ball into a target section which is based on points, there are two teams which can often get very competitive but all for fun. After this activity the residents and volunteers like to have tea and biscuits before the next activity starts which is a cheese board game, this game is loved by everyone as it is good fun and always makes residents laugh.

New Larchwood residents getting involved in some of the activities.
New Larchwood residents getting involved in some of the activities.

My week ends on a Thursday, with helping organise gardening in the morning. This is a loved activity as it is a way to keep the outside of New Larchwood looking amazing and gives the residents a sense of achievement as they have got to decide what is being planted. Due to the cold weather the gardening had to stop but now it is getting warmer the residents are keen to keep the upkeep of the plants going. The last bit of my week involves helping another volunteer with musical bingo, this is always well attended by not just residents but members of the community. Everyone loves hearing songs that are not played on the radio and this helps with their memory stimulation. At the end of the bingo there is always a raffle in which people who have attended have a chance to win some prizes.

All the activities that are run at New Larchwood, benefit each resident differently. The sessions help the residents with their memory as they are enjoying the activities and socialising with different people each week. For a volunteer, working within New Larchwood helps you have a different aspect to life and would get you to socialise with a group of people that you would not necessarily meet within society.”

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