By Sue Sayers, Senior Community Participation Worker.
Last month I started to cover the post of Older People’s Worker for the North/Central area of Brighton. I am now based at New Larchwood, Coldean on Mondays – in the little office downstairs in the café area.
The Café, called The Larches, is run by Impact Initiatives, and serves both New Larchwood residents and the wider community of Coldean. Activities run within the café, such as art groups and knitting: so it is always busy with people coming and going.
Part of my role is to support the many volunteers who help support the many and varied activities that are organised throughout New Larchwood. There is an on-going scheme which enables university students to volunteer and at present there are 9 in place. There is also a volunteer supporting the Boccia sessions, who came as a university student and loved it so much, she stayed once her placement was complete!
This term there are also two Occupational Therapy students who spend 7 weeks on a practice placement. In this time they meet New Larchwood residents and work with them to design new activities around their suggestions: this year focusing on board games, films and reminiscing. They are also helping to encourage residents who have not been taking part, to join in. This has been particularly successful with weekly musical bingo sessions so that a mixed group of 12 are now attending regularly.
Last, but definitely not least, we have community members who volunteer, leading activities such as the monthly Dementia Café, Gentle Chair-based exercise and an Intergenerational Supper Club and who sit on committees to help manage finances etc.
As we are celebrating Student Volunteering Week this month, I would like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you all those who volunteer at New Larchwood – you all contribute to make it a vibrant, active and supportive community hub.
Student Volunteering Week takes place this year between 19-25th February and celebrates the contribution of student volunteers around the UK, aiming to encourage more meaningful and innovative student engagement.