Happy Volunteer’s Week 2021! This week is a time to give thanks.
From the 1st to the 7th June, all across the 3rd Sector and beyond, we’re celebrating volunteers and the impact they make on the sector. This week is a time to say thanks, celebrating the amazing work that volunteering teams contribute to the 3rd Sector all across our communities.
Today, Tuesday 1st, marks the first day of Volunteer’s Week. Across the last year in particular, the contribution of volunteers has been more important and valued than ever.
Volunteers all across the UK have pivoted and adapted, working in new ways to support those that need it most. At VIable, we feel so privileged to work with so many amazing charities across Northern Ireland.
In 2015, we were established by VOYPIC and Include Youth. VOYPIC advocates for children in care and care leavers across Northern Ireland, supporting their voice. Include Youth then support young people all across Northern Ireland from disadvantaged backgrounds.
VIable was established to support both of these charities, but we also work with a wider range of charities across Northern Ireland.
This year, we as a team came together to discuss our partners, and the work that they do, aiming to highlight one of our many partner’s volunteer networks during this years’ Volunteer’s Week. With so many charity partners, we really struggled to narrow down our choice, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers across NI that support partners in our network. This Volunteer’s Week you are seen and your impact is heard and noticed – take this week to celebrate all that you do in the sector.
This year, as we a team, we decide to highlight the work of Dementia NI, celebrating their work in supporting people living with Dementia to live their lives to the fullest.
Who are Dementia NI?
“People with Dementia driving positive change”
Dementia NI is a member-led charity based in Belfast. In 2015, 5 individuals living with a diagnosis of dementia came together to form the organisation.
Dementia NI acts as an empowerment group, bringing individuals living with dementia together to empower one another to live their lives to the fullest. Therefore, the group creates a shared sense of social identity for members, generating motivation and supporting positive change in their lives.
As a charity, Dementia NI work to ensure the voices of people living with dementia are heard. All too often, members felt that the voice of the person with dementia was not being heard, and people were often afraid to talk to them. Together, members living with dementia work to challenge the stigma, and achieve their vision of “everyone living well with dementia”.
Dementia NI Empowerment Officers
“What they are is extremely dedicated. The team that we do have are so dedicated to what we do, and we want to get that out there, and give our thanks from the staff to the volunteers for their dedication and passion to the work they’re involved in”Ashleigh, Empowerment Officer
Throughout May, we reached out to our partners at Dementia NI, having a good catch up and laugh over Zoom.
We first spoke to Empowerment Officers Ashleigh, Hannah and Hazel, discussing their work and role.
Their job lies in supporting the members and volunteers of Dementia NI, bringing people together who are recently diagnosed and help them provide each other peer support.
The Empowerment Officers help individuals with dementia maintain their independence, be involved with the community and build self-esteem. Through the empowerment and support groups, the Empowerment Officers bring Dementia NI members together where they share experiences living with dementia and offer one another peer support.
The Empowerment Officers then invite a wide range of other organisations in to talks and discussions with members. These talks ensure the views of individuals with dementia are heard, and that those views are carried forward into dementia care procedure.
Hazel highlighted, “a large percentage of our volunteers came on over the pandemic to help with online hosting”.
Throughout the year, the volunteers were integral in facilitating online sessions with members, hosting Yoga, Quilt Making and Story Telling sessions. The sessions have supported members throughout the year, reducing feelings of isolation and bringing individuals who were shielding together through the power of technology.
Dementia NI’s volunteer’s efforts throughout the year ultimately lead to the charity being a finalist in the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Hero Awards. Nominated for innovation, Dementia NI were hailed for their online sessions, pivoting to offer essential support throughout the pandemic. With a volunteer network of just over 10 volunteers, the passion and dedication of Dementia NI volunteers in the last year has been apparent.
Ashleigh emphasised, “What they are is extremely dedicated. The team that we do have are so dedicated to what we do, and what we want to get out there is that, and give our thanks from the staff to the volunteers for their dedication and passion to the work they’re involved in”.
Hearing so much about these amazing volunteers, we had to hear from them! Luckily, the following week we were able to sit down with volunteers, members and Hazel to hear about the fantastic programmes they have ran through the last year.
Dementia NI Volunteers and Members Call
“I felt I had to do something to give back, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I have enjoyed the role immensely and I am looking forward to continuing that role for many years to come”Tom, a Volunteer at Dementia NI
The call with Dementia NI Volunteers and Members was fantastic. The volunteers talked us through their roles and their passion, and it was inspiring to hear their stories.
Members were able then to take time to thank the volunteers on call, and the Empowerment Officers for all the support they provided throughout the last year.
We were lucky enough to have time to speak to each volunteer individually, and learn more about each of their roles at Dementia NI.
Phil – IT Support Volunteer
Phil supports Dementia NI through his IT Background, helping with the development of their new website, and hosting digital Zoom sessions for members.
Phil stated his favourite thing about volunteering at Dementia NI is, “the people, apart from anything else. The members are great – an amazing bunch of people. And coming from the IT world, I feel that I am making a difference”.
Betty – Past Primary Teacher, volunteering in supporting Mental Health
Betty volunteers in supporting the mental health of individuals all across Northern Ireland in a range of organisations. A passionate past primary teacher, Betty took up volunteering, meeting new people and taking pride in supporting other people.
Betty said her biggest achievement this year was “just being able to talk to you on Zoom, which has been a massive achievement for me!” Betty makes a small contribution, but said she’d love to “do anything she can to support the group in her own small way”.
Betty is looking forward to meeting in person, and getting to know the members on a new level.
Carol – volunteer from the local museum and library
Carol works at Armagh Robinson Library, and volunteers at Dementia NI. Armagh Robinson Library’s team became keen on becoming a dementia-friendly building. Working with Dementia NI, Carol learnt more about volunteering with Dementia NI, and took the next step to do more to support the charity.
Carol stated “she likes the value that Dementia NI places on their members, and their volunteers”, praising the work of Dementia NI in bringing the views of empowerment groups, and the needs of individuals with dementia forward. Carol has enjoyed the Zoom classes, and the yoga that volunteers and members have enjoyed together.
Tom – volunteer driver for 3 years
Tom volunteered at Dementia NI stands, ensuring that leaflets were supplied and supporting the message getting out. Before the pandemic, Tom also was a volunteer driver, driving members across the community when they needed support. Since lockdown, Tom hosts Zoom meetings for the charity, ensuring members can come together online.
Tom joined Dementia NI as a volunteer after his wife, Allison, was diagnosed with dementia. Allison joined Dementia NI as a member, and so Tom said “I felt I had to do something to give back, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I have enjoyed the role immensely and I am looking forward to continuing that role for many years to come”.
Joanne – volunteer in Banbridge supporting empowerment groups
Joanne has recently joined Dementia NI as a volunteer. Joanne will be volunteering in supporting empowerment groups in the Banbridge area when volunteers can meet face-to-face. Joanne has a history of volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society.
“I seen an advert on Facebook, and looked into Dementia NI and I thought it was a wonderful group, and I’m very much looking forward to starting”. Joanne will be volunteering by helping members at empowerment groups, supporting the sessions as we reopen.
Evidently, the volunteers all come from such a diverse skill background. With an amazing diversity of people and personalities, we were privileged to be involved and to hear from each one of them individually.
On Volunteer’s Week, the Empowerment Team would like to thank the amazing volunteers who support the charity throughout the last year.
Here at VIable, we are honoured to be supporting the back office of such a fantastic charity, and are delighted to be celebrating the amazing volunteers alongside you this year on Volunteer’s Week.
At the end of the session, we heard from members of Dementia NI who expressed their gratitude to the Volunteers for all the work they do across the year.
“Everyone’s perception of dementia is that it is end of life, and we at Dementia NI have proven it’s far from that. We take on many tasks, we take the bull by the horns and we go for it, and the reason we can do that is because we have such a fantastic support network behind us in the empowerment officers and the volunteers”Steve, a member of Dementia NI
Chris, one of the members, was recently diagnosed with dementia. Chris attends the yoga events, the storytelling and the museum.
As a member, Chris has a range of projects he is passionate to start up, and wants to work with Dementia NI to do so. “If it had not of been for Zoom I’d have no clue”, Chris said. “I would have been ringing phone numbers with people on the end of them I couldn’t see, I didn’t know. I would have been at a real loss”.
Chris highlighted the positive impact that Dementia NI has had on his life in the last year.
We heard from Steve, another member who has been a member of Dementia NI since 2017. Since 2016, Steve has lived with frontal lobe dementia and Alzheimer’s. At the start, Steve felt lost, with little communication from Health Services, and feeling lost with his diagnosis.
A year later, Steve heard about Dementia NI, and said “from that moment forward, I’ve just been stronger and stronger. Dementia NI have really helped me and lifted me from a suicidal moment, and I am really strong and happy, and very willing to talk to anyone about my dementia”.
Steve continued, “everyone’s perception of dementia is that it is end of life, and we at Dementia NI have proven it’s far from that. We take on many tasks, we take the bull by the horns and we go for it, and the reason we can do that is because we have such a fantastic support network behind us in the empowerment officers and the volunteers”.
Steve highlighted, “each machine is only as good as every single cog, and every cog is very important in the wheel”. Steve expressed his deep gratitude, “I just want to say thank you to every person behind the scenes at Dementia NI, we appreciate all that you do, and thank you to each and every one of you”.
After introducing herself, Allison started off discussing the old times of being in person, enjoying a cup of coffee together at empowerment groups with the volunteers.
“It was great being with people who sort of got you, and were willing to support you, but not take over”, Allison stated. “They definitely do support you, and encourage you in a way that your voice is heard. They give the power back over to yourself, which is brilliant”.
Events such as quilt making, yoga and storytelling on a weekly basis kept Allison and other members engaged with one another.
Thanking the volunteers, Allison expressed that, “Anything I would like to say is just a massive thank you to any of the volunteers willing to give up their time. It is appreciated more than you know, and I know the empowerment officers appreciate your time as well”.
At the end of the session, Carol expressed “Can I just say one more thing, I would like to thank that person in the middle of the room, and that is Hazel. Thank you Hazel for all that you do for us, it is so appreciated”.
The Empowerment Officers role is so important, and the gratitude from the group was overwhelming. It was moving and cclear from the session the importance of volunteers and the volunteer support teams who make a positive change and impact in the lives of members.
Happy Volunteer’s Week
So, Happy Happy Volunteer’s Week to all of the volunteers at Dementia NI!
The discussions we had with members, volunteers, and empowerment officers over the last few weeks have been moving, and show the true impact that volunteers have on individuals’ lives.
At VIable, we work with a wide range of charities that are supported by volunteers. In every charity, volunteers are an integral part of the 3rd Sector, supporting vibrant organisations support people who need it most.
This week, from all of us at the VIable team, we would like to congratulate, celebrate and thank volunteers across Dementia NI, VOYPIC, Include Youth, and all of our partner charity organisations. Without your work, our partners would not be the same. The support, dedication, and passion across the sector is heartening and drives the passion of teams across our communities.
The work that you contribute to the sector is life-changing – today, and every day, we take our hats off to you, praise you, and thank you for the contributions you make to your charities.
Happy Volunteer’s Week! We’ll leave you with this fantastic quote from Steve, a member of Dementia NI
“Each machine is only as good as every single cog, and every cog is very important in the wheel. I just want to say thank you to every person behind the scenes at Dementia NI, we appreciate all that you do, and thank you to each and every one of you.”Steve, a member of Dementia NI
If you would like to learn more about the work that Dementia NI carry out in our community, check out their website here.
At VIable, we partner with a wide range of charities. As a partner organisation of VOYPIC and Include Youth, we’d also like to encourage you to learn more about their cause, and volunteer networks. Learn more about VOYPIC here, and Include Youth here.
To learn more about VIable, and who we are, follow this link to our about us page.
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