I first joined L4A because I heard it was a great organisation to help those with mental health problems to live their lives to the fullest where they can enjoy their favourite hobbies and other awesome activities such as arts and crafts! I was very glad to be a volunteer as I was keen on helping them live their lives the best way they could as they got older. One of my one to one sessions was with John who is a very light-hearted person and enjoys creating drawings using charcoal pencils.
I enjoyed seeing how friendly all the staff and patients were at the care home – it was amazing. Also, the drawing sessions I had with John were so fun as we learned more about each other and how we have common interests, like we are both into Indian food and gardening. The sessions were one hour or so long each week and I enjoyed seeing how John’s drawing skills improved each time I visited him. One of his best drawings was a batman picture which he added his own twist to it by angling batman’s face in a different direction, this surprised me and I realised how great John’s imagination is! Our sessions started with him drawing stars using a ruler but as time went on he started drawing freehand and added shading with shadows and highlights to faces, animals and landscapes. It was quite the learning journey!
I learned lots about how you can still have fun and learn new hobbies even as you get older. I was also able to see how the whole care home works and how the carers are always there to support the patients if they need to. The whole experience showed me how vast the caring world is and this has inspired me to find out more about the things I saw. I wasn’t expecting to learn how being a carer was such a passionate role which included encouraging patients to persevere when at times they felt they lost the confidence to go on. For example, when John felt he found the face drawings hard, through a little encouragement, he attempted them and produced good pieces of art. I was excited about getting home, as I had so much to speak to my family and friends about!
One special highlight for me was how my contribution to John’s life has made a great impact on him as he said ‘you’re an inspiration and you get me going’. This was so heartfelt as he lets me know from time to time how he enjoys the sessions and how he eagerly waits to get the sessions started! I was so pleased that he takes keen interest in them.
I will definitely say that volunteering with the L4A is a worthwhile experience for anyone of all ages and background.This experience has strengthened my consideration of pursuing a career in a caring profession in the future, perhaps through a medical degree. The volunteering experience has made me realise how much of a lasting impact that carers can have on people’s lives and the lives of future generations.