"I began volunteering for The Hamlet Out of Hours Club just after the project launched, about ten years ago. Out of Hours Club gives members aged 16 and over a chance to socialise in a fun, safe environment. We get involved in all sorts of activities taking place in the evening and at weekends, from cooking at Ella Road to riding bikes at Thetford Forest. I support our members however I can to make sure they get the most out of each session – this will vary depending on the member and the activity but often it’s just being there to have a chat and provide some encouragement. As a volunteer, I’m not asked to take on personal care duties but I drive the minibus when we go further afield for trips and have been known to dress up as a mascot or one of Santa’s elves!
I had volunteered with other organisations for a number of years before joining The Hamlet. I was initially attracted to the role by its flexibility. Not having to commit to the same time or number of hours each week really helps me balance my volunteering with other commitments in my life. I also felt like it was a great cause and right from the start I was made to feel very welcome and supported.
I enjoy the variety the most - no two sessions are the same. There are so many lovely people to meet (members, staff and other volunteers) and we get out and about trying some really enjoyable activities. It’s really rewarding to see members develop their skills and increase in their confidence over time. I’ve been there so long now it often just feels like having fun with old friends.
It’s the people – staff and volunteers – that make The Hamlet so special. It is clear that everyone at The Hamlet feels passionately about helping the children and young adults in their care to realise their full potential and they take a very holistic, personalised approach. I also find our members and their families inspirational.
I would recommend volunteering for The Hamlet without hesitation. I was a little apprehensive when I first started but I was given lots of support and have never looked back. There are so many different ways you can get involved with The Hamlet - there is a role to suit everyone. I have gained a lot from volunteering with The Hamlet. On a personal level, I find it hugely rewarding to see our members enjoying a more active and fulfilled social life. I’ve also made some great friends along the way too. The variety of the role has made me more adaptable and supporting members has definitely made me more aware of how I communicate with others – both skills that are useful in all parts of life. Although sessions can be very busy, it’s also stress-busting; I find going to The Hamlet after a long day at work can help put the challenges of the day in perspective."