Big Rewards from little actions …
As an active volunteer for Speak with IT (SWIT) Anne Little supports a number of clients with aphasia in the West Yorkshire area. Anne was initially attracted to the volunteer role as her father had suffered a number of strokes, and also because of the relatively small time commitment required. She says, “When looking to offer my skills and help others, SWIT’s role really appealed to me. I had explored other volunteering opportunities, but most required a regular commitment such as one day a week, which would have meant paying for day care for my two dogs. Visiting a client with SWIT only takes a couple of hours a few times a month, which suits me very well.”
Anne has helped a number of clients during her time with the charity. She finds it very rewarding to see clients making progress with their speech and gaining the confidence to do things that they didn’t think twice about before their illness - such as going to the corner shop for a newspaper or going out to meet friends for a drink and a natter. She also likes the fact that client visits often continue after the computer therapy has ended. This is usually for a chat, and Anne often takes along newspaper articles to help stimulate discussion.
Anne’s father suffering a stroke was a factor in her decision to volunteer with SWIT. His speech was quite severely affected, and eventually he was confined to a wheelchair. She says, “As a youngster, I got very upset when I saw conversations being held over his head, and also people talking down to him. He was a very clever man, but unfortunately people only saw the disability. I appreciate that all this happened many years ago, but there was certainly no organisation such as SWIT to turn to for help back then.”
Our other volunteers would agree with Anne, that just a few hours a month has such a huge impact on the lives of people with aphasia – not just helping them with their speech, but also helping them build confidence and self-esteem. That something big can come from a small act is another thing that Anne can testify to. She says, “I was planning to donate my old iPad to SWIT after upgrading so that it could be loaned out to clients undertaking computer therapy. I submitted a small article to my local community newsletter about SWIT, and how it needed more tablets and laptops to meet client needs, and was delighted to receive three laptops, which have now been passed on to SWIT.
It’s sometimes difficult to know what to do with old technology when you upgrade. SWIT gladly accepts laptops (Windows 7 and above) and most tablets; we’ll also refund any cost incurred to wipe the hardware clean of all your programs, search history and personal data.
Though Anne undoubtedly gives so much to SWIT and its clients, it’s clear she gets a lot out of it herself. And, because she’s not out for long when fulfilling her volunteer duties, her dogs are happy, too!
Could a volunteering role with SWIT find a place in your life?