My name is Faye Armstrong, and I am a second year student studying English Literature. I completed my work placement with Yorkshire Children’s Centre throughout the year as a volunteer. Despite the name of the organisation, my role involved working with the elderly. I decided to become a Dementia Reading Champion and a Befriender.
As a Dementia Reading Champion, I had to visit a variety of care and residential homes around Huddersfield. This gave me the opportunity to travel around the area rather than staying in one location. The fundamental aim of the Dementia Reading Champion group is to allow those with Dementia to communicate and reminisce through poetry, music and photographs, as this can be a challenge for them. I had to receive training before I started so I could be fully aware of what was expected of me. It further enhanced my knowledge about Dementia and how to deal with difficult situations. For most of the sessions I attended with a group of volunteers and we would communicate with individuals and then interact with the group so that everyone could be involved. It was pleasing to witness some of the reactions from the group, many remembering fond childhood memories. I often had the chance to reflect on the session by completing a feedback form which assessed the strengths and weaknesses that arose for that group. This further indicated whether the sessions had a positive effect on those with Dementia. Additionally, I had to lead one of the sessions by myself, which increased my confidence.
I then became a Befriender, which meant that I matched up with an elderly lady to decrease her loneliness and isolation. As a Befriender, my main role was to improve the elderly lady’s sociability, due to her inability to leave her home. By allowing her to communicate and have a friend to confide in, we built a friendship over many months. I had to ensure that she had the freedom to openly discuss matters whilst I listened carefully. I also received training before I matched with the elderly lady to be fully aware of what the role entailed.
Overall, I found that my placement was an extremely positive experience. The opportunity to help others is something I am passionate about, therefore that is why I decided to complete my placement with Yorkshire Children’s Centre. I now know that I would enjoy a career in a charity organisation, yet I am still unsure whether I will pursue this after Graduation. I would definitely recommend this placement to others who are interested in a charity career.
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