Your virtual volunteer conference programme

1st June 2021

Our virtual volunteers week conference is jammed packed with fascinating and fun speakers. Here's what's on the agenda, and more about the speakers.


10.00am – 10.10am – Conference welcome

10.10am – 10.30am – thank you and introduction to Sense’s refreshed strategy

Richard Kramer – Chief Executive, Sense and Sense International

Richard will provide the official welcome to the Conference in recognition of Volunteers' Week. Richard will also share an overview of the Sense refreshed 2021-2026 strategy.   

10.30am - 10.50am – Supporting children, young people and families

Anne Cheesbrough – Senior MSI Practitioner, Sense

Anne will share some of the experiences of the Sense Specialist Services for Children and Young People team over the last 12 months in ensuring that the vital support for children, young people and families has continued during the pandemic; providing meaningful interactions to increase confidence and wellbeing for the people we support.

10.50am - 11.10am – Introducing Virtual Buddying

Abigail Walker – Virtual Buddying Coordinator, Sense

Our Virtual Buddying programme is celebrating its first birthday, after being set up to tackle social isolation and loneliness experienced by people with complex disabilities in relation to the pandemic.

Virtual Buddying matches a disabled person with a volunteer. Our volunteer buddies are matched with people based on their communication style, hobbies, and interests, with a focus on growing friendships. Abigail will share the successes of this programme and the stories of the impact the programme has had on the people supported by Sense.  

11.10am - 11.30am – Break

11.30am - 12.00pm – An introduction to British Sign Language (BSL)

Anne Lucas – Sign Language Skills Facilitator, Sense

Communication is central to our work at Sense. There are a range of communication methods you may experience whilst volunteering for Sense; British Sign Language (BSL) is one of these. Anne will teach you the manual alphabet and some key phrases to celebrate Volunteers' Week. This will be an interactive, practical session. 

12.00pm – 12.10pm – Sense Sign School

Damian Field – Head of Media and Campaigns, Sense

In April 2020, during the first UK lockdown, Sense launched ‘Sense Sign School’, our first digital engagement campaign, aimed at teaching British Sign Language to those who signed up. Damian will share more details about Sense Sign School – why we did it, its impact – and how you can get involved.

12.10pm – 12.20pm – Left out of life campaign

Damian Field – Head of Media and Campaigns, Sense

We’re calling for no one to be left out of life. The pandemic has shown how loneliness can affect everyone. As we exit lockdown, thousands of people with disabilities still face loneliness and isolation every day. Damian will tell you more about our Left out of Life campaign and how you can take action to tackle loneliness among disabled people and play your part in making society more inclusive.

12.20pm - 12.30pm – Sense quiz

12.30pm - 1.30pm – Lunch

1.30pm - 2.30pm – Wellbeing webinar – Taking care of yourself to lead a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life

Michelle McArthur-Morgan – Founding Partner - Jigsaw Discovery

This is an interactive webinar that will provide you with a useful overview of how to look after your wellbeing and help you to achieve the following:

  • Understand the importance of self-care
  • Prioritise yourself and your overall wellbeing
  • Discover ways to switch off and relax
  • Boost your energy levels and feel alert
  • Manage stress and avoid burnout

2.45pm - 3.30pm – Stretch and flow yoga

Faye Fenton – Founder and Yoga Teacher at ‘Barefoot Birmingham'

A feel-good yoga session to help you find more ease in body and mind. Suitable for all levels including complete beginners. We’ll stretch and strengthen our muscles, flow through a series of simple yoga postures, and practice some breathing techniques to calm our nervous system. Expect to finish the session feeling nicely chilled and better connected to the present moment and those around you. Come with an open mind as well as a desire to relax, restore and have a little fun along the way

3.30pm - 4.00pm – Thank you and conference close

About the speakers

Richard Kramer – Chief Executive, Sense and Sense International

Richard was appointed Chief Executive of Sense and Sense International in July 2018, having joined as Deputy Chief Executive in 2013.

Prior to joining Sense, Richard worked at Turning Point, the social enterprise organisation, for ten years. He held a number of director-level posts, including leading the business function, Connected Care, which involved service users in the design and delivery of services across England.

A qualified solicitor, Richard has worked for public affairs consultancy NCVO, and was Mencap's Head of Campaigns for four years. Richard was also a trustee of Respond for ten years. He is currently a director of Whitefield Academy, which supports children with specialist educational needs, and a board member of the Campaign to End Loneliness and vice-chair of the Disabled Children's Partnership.

Anne Cheesbrough – Senior MSI Practitioner, Sense

Anne has worked at Sense since 1993; originally joining as a Registered Care Manager. Anne’s passion has always been to work with children, and she now works as a Senior MSI Family Practitioner as part of the Sense Specialist Services for Children and Young People team. Anne works directly with children and young people who are deafblind/MSI on a one to one basis within their own homes, educational settings and in small groups, providing support and advice. Anne also develops social activities for children, young people and families. Anne’s motto is to always celebrate the tiny steps and to have fun!

Abigail Walker – Virtual Buddying Coordinator, Sense

Abigail has worked at Sense for a year and a half. Abigail began her Sense journey as part of the East London Buddying team where she took young people with complex needs out into the community and introduced them to their volunteer buddy. Abigail loved getting to work with programme participants as part of Sense. Taking those skills, Abigail then moved to the brand new Virtual Buddying project. Abigail loves working on the Virtual Buddying project and getting to explore all the wonderful things our participants and volunteers can do together online!

Anne Lucas – Sign Language Skills Facilitator, Sense

Anne has worked for Sense since 2005, mainly in the Learning and Development Department, and started her current role as Sign Language Skills Facilitator in December 2020. Anne is deaf and has been a member of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion board for the last few years. Anne is also involved with the BSL café at Sense TouchBase Pears in Birmingham, supporting a young man who is partly deafblind with teaching BSL.

Damian Field – Head of Media and Campaigns, Sense

Damian has been at Sense for over five years. Before Sense, Damian worked in the private sector, in a variety of in-house and agency roles across communications.

Michelle McArthur-Morgan – Founding Partner, Jigsaw Discovery

Michelle is an experienced manager and leader of people, with a passion for helping and supporting individuals and teams to unleash their potential to maximise, performance, health and happiness.

Since 2008, she has focused upon how the brain drives behaviour and the links between increased awareness, wellbeing and performance. Michelle applies some of the latest evidenced thinking from Neuroscience and Positive Psychology to the workplace, enabling managers and team members to introduce more brain friendly working which leads to increased personal and organisational wellbeing and performance.

Faye Fenton – Founder and Yoga Teacher, Barefoot Birmingham

Faye helps people from all walks of life feel happier, healthier and more empowered through Yoga and Relaxation. Faye set up ‘Barefoot Birmingham’ in 2012, after feeling disillusioned with the choice of loud gym or draughty church hall when it came to finding a yoga class. Faye wanted a welcoming, warm place to retreat to! Today, Barefoot runs two dedicated wellness studios, one in Harborne and one in Kings Heath, as well as in-office yoga and relaxation sessions for corporate and charity clients like Sense. And of course, Zoom classes!

Secure your spot

Join us for this free virtual event on June 1.

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