This #VolunteersWeek we’re saying a big thank you to all Camelot employees who have donated their time to help others and we want to highlight one volunteer in particular who has gone above and beyond in giving back to the local community.
Adam, Assistant Product Manager, not only uses his two volunteer days every year but spends every Friday lunchtime at a local Dementia home, engaging with residents and helping them to relive memories with the use of technology.
We caught up with Adam to find out more about his volunteering journey and what motivates him to dedicate so much of his time to helping others.
Adam, what was your first experience of volunteering?
In 2015 I volunteered with the XL-R8 Community Bus Project, every Tuesday evening for seven months. I first became aware of this project due to its National Lottery funding. The XL-R8 Community Bus Project has been at the heart of community work in inner city estates for the past 10 years, enabling thousands of young people to find a place of support, safety and personal development through a variety of activities.
The bus targets areas where there are little or no youth work facilities available. Each session is staffed by teams of experienced youth workers and volunteers.
One of the young people there had expressed a desire to drop out of his media college course, I managed to determine the reason why and explained the consequences of leaving college prematurely.
Over a number of weeks, I supported him with 1-2-1 mentoring, encouraged him to develop positive behaviours and helped develop his life skills. I connected him with other youth workers, offered a sympathetic ear and access to computers where we looked at his course and broke it down into manageable segments. This helped raise his self-confidence and as result he remained in education, setting goals and working hard to achieve them.
What kind of support do you offer on a weekly basis to Age UK?
I volunteer at an Age UK Centre in Watford, working with patients that have Dementia. I have been doing this for the last 3 years every Friday during my lunch hour.
Every Friday is different, activities range from crafting simple quizzes, using the iPad for sing-alongs or interacting individually with the residents.
One day I used Google Maps street view to look up where some of the residents used to live when they were younger and showed them on the iPad. When we zoomed in on the actual childhood house of one of the residents, she smiled and started to cry.
One of the residents used to work on building components for aircraft ejector seats when he was younger so I printed out an A3 sheet with a picture of one and his eyes lit up; we talked about it for the whole time I was there.
Last Christmas I also collated a number of pictures of the patients and made 10 bespoke calendars for them, it was a lot of hard work but well worth it to see the look on their faces!
How do you use the two volunteer days provided by Camelot?
One example was a trip to Southend-On-Sea in 2016. The care home had organised a trip but unfortunately, they couldn’t afford a driver so I offered to step in. I had an induction with the bus company and ended up driving a 17 seater minibus to the seaside! The end result was a wonderful day out that the patients thoroughly enjoyed.
What made you want to get into volunteering in the first place?
At Camelot we are encouraged to live by our values. Over the seven years of working here, I had volunteered many times at the OAP Christmas dinners and this was something I really enjoyed. Seeing the difference it made to people and how easy it was to do, made me want to get more involved so I contacted Age UK.
What’s your motivation for doing it weekly?
The consistency gives you the chance to build relationships with the residents which you don’t get through one or two days per year. I also get the opportunity to do my own thing and be more creative, e.g creating advent calendars.
What has been your volunteering highlight?
In 2017, the residents were heartbroken when they heard the highly anticipated Age UK Christmas Party, normally held at our Watford head office, had to be cancelled due to the snow. We wanted to ensure they still got their gifts, so we packed the goodie bags, gifts and hampers and I delivered them directly to all the residents of Charmers Court Dementia home. The residents were overwhelmingly excited, there were literally tears of joy!
What do you think are the key benefits of volunteering?
Volunteering at the Dementia home has really helped me develop different communication styles and understand when to adopt them. For me, volunteering offers a creative, challenging and invigorating opportunity that actually makes a difference to the lives of others and to my own. I have a natural rapport with the people at the home and I feel that supporting and engaging with them through a variety of methods is not only personally rewarding but also beneficial to them.
Selfishly I’m also volunteering for the feel-good factor. Volunteering can be enormously rewarding on many different levels; from the positive feeling when I’ve made a difference to someone's life, to giving me a different breadth of experience. I am also proud to talk to friends and colleagues about volunteering.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into volunteering but isn’t sure where to start?
If your company offers volunteer days like Camelot does, take them. They can be a great taster into volunteering and you get lots of support organising things.
How has Camelot supported your Volunteering journey?
I don’t think I would volunteer if I didn’t work at Camelot, that’s where the first introduction came from and the first project in 2015 was via a National Lottery project. I also have a very supportive manager who actively encourages me to live the Camelot values.
Well done Adam! If you'd like to join Adam and discover volunteering opportunities as a Camelot employee, take a look at our current roles.