John joined a team of two other volunteers, plus Adventure Leader – Jesse Read, on a holiday to the Calvert Trust in Northumberland. The beautiful surroundings and fun activities make this one of our more popular holidays. On the holiday were four people living with dementia and their partners.
John explains why he decided to volunteer, “As Chair, I felt it was important to experience the work of Dementia Adventure first hand. I was also really keen to go. I had not been on one of the holidays before, although I have been on the park walk in Redbridge.”
Each day, John helped the team get breakfast ready and then spent the day supporting the couples so that their break was as easy and as fun as possible. He spent time chatting to the carers, who enjoyed having care-free conversation. He supported the couples out on day trips and joined in with the activities; “I played pool with one of the gentlemen with dementia, which was fun, and another time a group of us played table tennis, which was hysterical – it was obvious some of the people with dementia had connections to the game in the past and they just lit-up as they joined in”.
John’s particular highlight was sitting with one of the men living with dementia and looking at a photobook with him; “It was a great experience, to see how he remembered things, and how certain images made him respond. It was fun for both of us.”
Before the holiday John had very limited experience with dementia and no experience caring for someone, here’s how he describes his experience with DA; “It was very well organised. The training before you go is excellent and the provision of kit and everything you need is very good. I felt intrigued as to how it would go, before I went, but when I got there it felt almost natural – like being with family. I learnt that dementia doesn’t just fit the stereotype of people losing their memory. I saw how varied dementia is and its wider impact. Not only did I come away from the holiday feeling satisfied, like I had done some good, but I actually had fun and really enjoyed it too.”
John has already volunteered to go on another Dementia Adventure and has this to say to anyone considering volunteering – “Go for it! Just do it. Don’t rule yourself out because you have no experience with dementia or any caring experience. You don’t need any professional skills, don’t let that hold you back. You will get all the training you need and will be very well supported.”
There are a number of ways you can volunteer to support dementia adventure. You can support couples on holidays, like John, or you could be more office-based. To find out more please visit our website or call Hayley on 01245 237548.