Barry

Introducing some of our re:fresh volunteers

Current volunteer role: Session support

Years of service: One year and six months.

Brief description of current role:  I am currently supporting a ‘Cycle back to fitness’ session.  The session is restarting after the pandemic and at the moment, numbers on the session I am available to support are quite low (it is likely the timings will change and I would like to be involved with the retimed session(s).   The session is focussed on those wishing to gently step back into cycling exercise – safely cycling on a cycle suitable for them around the running track at Witton arena.  The session provides many different cycles for ‘clients’ … bespoke to them.  I have had an induction to the requirements of the session (safety, storage, sanitisation … and the general objective of the session.  It has also been suggested that I may become involved with ‘Group led sessions eg onto the canal bank.  I would like this.

How has your role changed during the pandemic?  Since the pandemic, the role has changed considerably.  Before, I supported an ‘active ageing’ exercise class at the Methodist church in Darwen.  This was supporting the session facilitator, setting up the exercises, demonstrating exercises, encouraging attendees, enabling attendees to become involved safely depending on the physical, mental, social needs required and clearing the session at the end.  It was brilliant!

During the pandemic, face2face contact has obviously been restricted.  However, I have been involved with a couple of adjusted services … firstly, delivering food parcels from the Foodbank on the ‘feeding Future Generations’ project.  During this 3 month activity, confidentiality, liaison with the foodbank, sensitivity and a ‘cheery demeanour’ were only some of the aspects which were required.  … During that period, it was a wonderful bonus to hear of the birth of two new additions to the ‘current generation’ from two of the recipients of the food parcels!!

Secondly, I was involved with a weekly online ‘chat and quiz’ session once a week.  This was done via Zoom and was a wholly joyous and uplifting experience!!!  The facilitators (question masters!) were excellent, ensuring ‘contestants’ were welcomed, included and, again, felt comfortable!  In addition, I learnt so much about Lancashire and the locality!!

What do you enjoy most about being a re:fresh volunteer? Where to start? … my whole involvement has been positive and uplifting.  I, particularly enjoy the social interaction, which I believe is key, irrespective of the class being undertaken.  Ensuring that attendees are welcomed and ‘feel comfortable’ is essential.  I love seeing people progressively engage more with the activities of the sessions and generally gaining confidence.  I have also enjoyed learning what is involved in the sessions and what part I will play.  I also like the variety.

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a re:fresh volunteer? Become involved!  If you are considering volunteering, in my experience, it will deliver more than you are anticipating.  If you are hesitant, you will be supported brilliantly by the Volunteering co-ordinators and never pressured into something that doesn’t ‘feel right for you’.  You will, also, have the opportunity to develop yourself with online ‘short qualifications’ for which clear guidance, encouragement and support is given.  Again, in my experience, you will be interacting with people who are positive, upbeat and passionate about what they do, without exception!   The experience has provided the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives and, albeit, not the main objective, to make a real difference to my life!   Take that step! And just make an enquiry as to the delights that volunteering WILL bring!

Are you interested in joining the re:fresh volunteers team?

Do you have an hour or more to spare during the week? Are you interested in helping serve the community? Are you looking to enhance your skills?

Get in touch with us to find out more about the re:fresh volunteers team. For an informal chat or to express an interest please get in touch with:
Maahira Hasham: 01254 507955/07929179068 maahira.hasham@blackburn.gov.uk

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