Chris is a 30 year old man who was born with Cerebral Palsy. He currently lives in his own flat in Southampton, and has two Volunteering Matters volunteers who live nearby who come and support him each day.
Full-Time Volunteers support Chris in his everyday life; from getting up, washing and physiotherapy stretches, through to cooking and using the washing machine. As well as this, the volunteers support Chris to access the local community, meet up with his friends, and attend the many activities he takes part in, such as theatre club, his own volunteering and the football team he plays with every Monday night.
Chris had the following to say about his experience of being supported by Full-Time Volunteers:
“I got my first taste of care support that wasn’t my family when I was at college. We advertised for a PA, and a man supported me for a little while, but I found that this support was restrictive and not flexible. I decided to look into having Full-Time Volunteers instead as I felt their flexibility would be more suitable to my lifestyle, meaning I could live an independent life which reflected my needs.
I began having volunteers in 2005, when I started my course in Theology at Chichester University. It was my first time away from home, and on the first day I wanted to leave, but my Mum persuaded me to stay, and I’m glad I did! Having the volunteers with me really helped, as not only was it a new experience for them too, but they were a similar age to me, so it helped me to fit in. It wasn’t so obvious that they were my carers, so I felt less noticeable. It was nice to know as well that they really wanted to be there: that they weren’t just there to support me, they were my friends too. Also, by knowing that they were having a good time, I found it easier to focus on my studying and social life, with their support.
After university, along with two volunteers, I moved back to my parent’s house in Romsey for a year, whilst I looked for a home for myself to live in independently. Without volunteers, there is no way I could have moved from my parent’s house to my current home in Southampton. Not only did they support with the moving process, but the support of Volunteering Matters was the only way my Mum was happy for me to leave home.
Once in my new home, the support of the volunteers meant I was able to live independently, but I wasn’t isolated. I believe independence and isolation often clash, but the volunteers mean I can easily access my local community, as well as regularly see my family as they can drive me to my parent’s house and back.
I’ve now lived here for five years, and I can’t imagine life without volunteers – that’s the biggest thing you can say. Volunteers have enabled me to go to social activities, travel to different countries, to get a degree; to live my life. I would really recommend the support of Volunteering Matters Full-Time Volunteers to any disabled person who wants to live independently.”