“I have cerebral palsy with high support needs, and I work as an independent disability consultant and trainer. I live in my own ground floor flat in Coventry. I have had volunteer support since 2008 and so far I’ve had 11 volunteers from Germany, France the UK and Colombia.
Prior to using Volunteering Matters’ services, I was directly employing personal assistants at the weekend and in the evenings. This did not always work well and I did not always find staff who were able to meet my needs, especially in terms of socialising.
I had known about Volunteering Matters since before I went to University in 1992 but I hadn’t thought it was relevant to my needs until I had a spare bedroom (I learnt later about the Student Choices project which allows students with disabilities to be supported in University accommodation). I liked the idea of having a volunteer because it meant I could have the security of someone living with me even though I didn’t need overnight support.
I believe the volunteers have dramatically enhanced my social life and they have kept me feeling young! They have complimented my personal assistant, who works in the week and focusses on assisting me to manage my home and my work. The volunteers have particularly enabled me to have the flexibility to travel for short breaks and holidays both locally and abroad, which has been amazing.
The first challenge of having a volunteer was, of course, getting used to living with someone else. I worried they might not be as clean and tidy as me but I have not really faced any major problems with my volunteers, which has been a massive relief.
Personally, I enjoy watching the volunteers grow and develop during their time with me, and I understand it’s great for them as they get the opportunity to do some travelling both in the UK and in Europe. There is a positive interdependency between the volunteers and myself which I find really rewarding.
I hope to continue to have volunteers every year for many years to come so I can stay feeling young!”