Our Love4Life project relies on the work of our passionate, enthusiastic and caring volunteers. We spoke to Jemma, who says how volunteering for Love4Life was the opportunity she had been waiting for.
âI had been looking for volunteering opportunities, researching what I could do in the area. I read about Love4Life at the Fareham Community Church. It was evenings – which suited me as I work full time – but I was put off applying initially as I had no experience of working in care, or with people with learning disabilities and autism and I thought I wouldn’t have the skills they wanted.
“I was too scared to apply as I don’t come from that background and didn’t think I had useful skills. It was so different from my day job – all I had to offer was my enthusiasm and my life experiences. When I saw the ad again, I applied, and it was very quick and easy. Hayley invited me in for an interview and then she invited me to a Love4Life games night where I could meet all the Love4Life members.
What I didn’t realise is how my life experiences from my previous roles in customer service to travelling and meeting people from all walks of life prepared me. I didn’t need a background in care or support work which seems obvious, but was something I was really worried about.
“Also communicating to people in different countries taught me to think about my language for example not using idioms that can confuse and speaking in plain English.
“I love volunteering for Love4Life the members all ask me loads of questions, they love to know all about you, and I try to be as honest as I can, and I love to see them enjoying themselves. I like to keep fit and be physically active, so I volunteer for all those types of activities, and I also like the creative activities, like pottery. They do so many great activities, things that I never had the opportunity to do when I was their age, they have the opportunity to give anything a go. It doesn’t feel like work, its just hanging out with people I know.
“I was a bit apprehensive before I got to know everyone, my advice is to go in with an open mind, everyone is an adult, and they have their own opinions and you just get to know them all and enjoy yourself. For anyone that needs extra support or personal care, then they have someone with them to support them, as a volunteer you just turn up and have fun! You don’t have to do anything scary or out of your experience. If you have ever hung out with a group of people and enjoyed getting to know each other and doing great activities then you have what it takes to be a Love4Life volunteer!
“I didn’t know what to expect, I had no experience at all, but I watched Hayley and the other volunteers and just learned from them. Everyone is so easy going. I think Love4Life is brilliant, everywhere should have one. It’s a really good way for people with learning disabilities to make friends, find people with common ground, and if you are feeling a bit isolated, Love4Life gives you a purpose.”