We recently caught up with Steve who volunteers at Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale who shared with us the story of how volunteering quite literally changed the course of his life.
At 65, Steve is getting the best of both worlds and enjoying part-time voluntary work and part-time self-employment. He keeps himself busy with a season ticket to the football, watching rugby, eating out as well as volunteering!
40 years ago, Steve was working in a job which he didn’t particularly enjoy. He found the work boring and didn’t feel fulfilled with his work life, so set out to find something to occupy his spare time. A friend had suggested he think about volunteering, and before long Steve found himself helping at a local hospital helping people living with conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis. This experience set the wheels in motion for a total career change.
Steve took the plunge and retrained in Occupational Therapy and now, with a wealth of experience under his belt, Steve works part-time as a case manager and specialises in supporting people experiencing brain injuries and complex mental health conditions.
He shared with us that throughout his career he has always advocated for the benefits of volunteering, and regularly signposts his service users to local organisations.
Clearly, no stranger to the benefits of volunteering, in 2014 Steve decided it was time for him to get back involved with volunteering. He contacted the local council which directed him to two local organisations. “I started doing my research, and the first one I looked into checked out… and it was Age Connects”.
He first began by befriending two clients in the community which he did for many years.
Steve recalled that one gentleman he visited was in his 90s, had lost his wife and was a wheelchair user. He had become extremely isolated at home as he was unable to get out independently. But, because of Steve’s day job, he was used to manoeuvring patients in wheelchairs so was able to get him out into the community.
Steve shared with us a fond memory of that time “ that gentleman, he was born and bred in Cardiff, living in the same street he’d been born on. He had been a builder for much of his career, and I was taking him out about in the local area, and he was pointing out buildings I had walked past time and time again. He showed me all of the fine details in the brickwork that he’d done as a young man. It really resonated with me and sticks in my mind to see that smile on his face, as someone who hadn’t been able to get out, but was now able to share that memory with me.”
Since the pandemic, Steve’s volunteering role has changed slightly in that he takes on a wider variety of tasks through phone support, one-off practical tasks, as well as home visiting. Many of these are tasks that enable him to make good use of his experience in the health and social care sector.
“Because I have years of experience in mental health I'm able to take on some of the referrals Age Connects receive that they otherwise may not be able to have a volunteer carry out. But working in that field is second nature to me, so it’s a good feeling to know that I can help someone and share my experience in that way. “
Steve is brand new to using the Volunteero app, but amazingly has already amassed 11 hours of Volunteering time since joining three weeks ago!
Sharing his experience of using the Volunteero app Steve told us “ it’s really easy to use, I record all my time and my notes straight in there. Which, compared to the old system of handwriting, scanning and emailing in has saved me a lot of time!”
If you’re thinking about volunteering but are unsure, then Steve has some words of wisdom
“ If you’re in two minds about volunteering, then just do it! You won’t know the benefits unless you give it a go! The backup, support and guidance are all accessible to you should you need it.”