Ange Kinder, Senior Business Systems Administrator, volunteers once a week in a cookery session at FitzRoy Trafford Day and Community Service.
She told us what made her want to volunteer.
I am office based and I travel a lot as part of my role. Because of this, I was finding that I wasn’t spending a lot of time with the people we support and for me it’s really important not to lose sight of what the day-to-day life is like within our services. Volunteering gives me a unique perspective on the challenges a service faces but at the same time is also great fun.
I help two members of staff support a group of six people in a cookery session. That may mean being involved with prep work, washing up, supporting people to cook, and helping people to make choices.
In one of my first volunteering sessions about four or five years ago I went to help someone with a knife chopping herbs who then told me he didn’t need help and chopped the herbs like a pro.Â He had learnt to do it that way because he liked watching Gordon Ramsey.Â That was my first lesson in trying not to make assumptions about people’s capabilities, which is more difficult than it sounds.Â It is so easy to assume people can’t do something when really we should be thinking they can.
Recently I have been trialling an app called MyChoicePadâ which helps communication through Makaton sign language.Â We have been using it with the people we support and staff to learn the signs for ingredients.
Two of the group regularly sign and it has been great for me to learn more Makaton and see how pleased they are to have quality communication with me, rather than me guessing at what they are signing which is incredibly frustrating for both of us.Â One lady in particular has taken great pleasure in showing me the signs and correcting me when her version of the sign is slightly different.Â The app was built to aid communication for the people we support, but I have learnt a lot from it as a volunteer and feel more confident communicating with people I had difficulty communicating with before.
Volunteering can be challenging at times but it is great fun and it is lovely watching people develop life skills. I learn something new in every single session. Many of the people we support have much better cookery skills than I do!â