Volunteering with Sense: how can you make a difference?

Sense helps deafblind and disabled people take part in life – and volunteers are a huge part of the fuel that drives our work. Here are their stories.

Our volunteers learn new skills and gain experience working with disabled people in different contexts.

A red-haired woman and a brown-haired man are talking next to some trees

Join a Sense Holiday, like Jenny

What keeps volunteers coming back to Sense Holidays year after year? For Jenny, the answer’s simple – it’s the highlight of her summer. She explains why.

At the end of my first year of university, I was looking for volunteer opportunities to keep me busy over the summer. I discovered Sense Holidays and I loved the experience so much that I now plan my summers around them – one year, I even went on two!

Volunteering on Sense Holidays is really rewarding. I’ve forged such strong bonds with the holidaymakers and there are so many opportunities to try things that I would never do on my own. I never would have imagined I could take a deafblind person kayaking or abseiling! It’s opened my eyes to what’s possible.

There’s a strong feeling of community, which keeps me coming back each year. I missed it during the pandemic, but it actually led to me volunteering as a Sense Virtual Buddy, which has become a big part of my week.

I’ve learnt a lot from volunteering with Sense. I’m now a special needs teacher and I credit Sense with that decision. When I was at university, I knew I wanted to do teaching, but my experience on Sense Holidays made me realise I could combine that goal with working in special needs education.

A woman, Karen, in a wheelchair on the grass in Regent's Park, in front of some trees

Become a Virtual Buddy, like Karen

Karen explains why she became a Virtual Buddy and how it’s helped her develop useful skills and a new friendship.

I’ve just completed a degree and I’m now looking to go into counselling. I started Virtual Buddying to gain some experience and I’ve learnt so many skills that are transferrable to my career goals: listening, patience, the value of silence and letting someone talk.

I acquired a brain injury when I was 16, and I am now able to function independently with the assistance of others. Back then, there was little awareness about counselling, and I frequently wished there was someone I could talk to. Going into Virtual Buddying, I feel like I can be there for someone else because of my lived experience.

I also wanted another friend, someone else to talk to – and through Virtual Buddying I’ve found one. I’ve never met anyone as unique as my buddy Ricky and we’ve built a real rapport.

I would recommend Virtual Buddying to other potential volunteers – it’s very rewarding. You get to meet someone completely different and learn about their perspectives. I remember being a bit nervous before my first session, but the Sense team was really helpful and provided lots of materials to get us started.

I feel like I make a big difference by volunteering with Sense. It feels like Ricky’s valued, and that’s so important.

A man and a boy stand in front of a view of London from the top of the Shard

Sign up for Buddying in London or Manchester, like Milton

Milton has found family through Sense Buddying. He explains how.

I started volunteering as a Buddy because I wanted to challenge myself. It was tough in the beginning, but I now enjoy planning fun activities for me and my buddy. It’s so rewarding to look back on all the milestones we’ve achieved together!

I’ve learnt a lot through Buddying – from caring for my buddy, to solving problems quickly. It’s not easy, but I always feel proud of myself for managing the responsibilities.

Most importantly, I love meeting people from various backgrounds. Here, I get to learn about the perspectives of others growing up with special needs and in different cultures. Sense offers a space for us to understand our differences.

Volunteering with Sense is one of the best decisions made in my life, and I’ve met other great volunteers with the same passion! Being thousands of miles away from my family, I have felt the warmth again ever since joining Sense.

Sense has a very supportive, proactive and vibrant team and I just could not thank them enough for making my buddying experience so lovely. It feels like a big family to me!

Want to learn more about volunteering with Sense? Contact our team at [email protected] or call 0121 312 3120.