November 2021

The nights are drawing in and my winter coat has come out of hibernation. But, instead of dreading the dark autumn evenings, I’m looking forward to them. This is all thanks to my role as a volunteer buddy at Sense.

This winter, I’ll be baking, crafting and getting in the Christmas spirits with Olivia, my fantastic buddy who is supported by Sense.
I’m Bethany. I’ve been a volunteer for Sense for a number of years now, and I’ve recently been nominated Volunteer of the Year for the upcoming Sense Awards. I feel so flattered – particularly as volunteering for Sense is fun and something I really enjoy doing.

Volunteering virtually

When we went into lockdown last year, I started to look for other ways to volunteer, which is when I stumbled across the Sense Virtual Buddying service. I was paired with Olivia, who is bubbly, creative and always great fun. I’ve known her for almost a year now. We spend an hour together each week via zoom to chat and do something creative. It seems so strange that we’ve never met in person because we’ve struck up a really close bond. Olivia is non-verbal and uses Makaton and a communication book to communicate with us. This hasn’t stopped us connecting and having loads of fun.

At first, Olivia’s mum helped with a few ideas of things to do in our sessions based on what Olivia likes. After a while, I started to think of some fun activities that would bring some new experiences to the table – for both myself and Olivia. We tried smell experiments, making a candle, making bath bombs, decorating a mug and loads more.

Making time for yourself, while helping others

Being part of virtual buddying is so worthwhile. It always cheers me up and was especially good for me during lockdown when I felt restless and a bit lonely. I know it will help me do just the same through the cold winter months. I love that we make time to create something, giggle, dance around, or chat each week!  I feel privileged to have the chance to make these connections with other people, and I know that you will too.