Volunteer Stories

Volunteers come from all walks of life and all have something to offer. Some carers and former carers also volunteer.

Sandra, from volunteer to paid work

Sandra came to us during a pause in lockdown in August 2020, interested in signing up as an early response volunteer. She had worked for a welfare charity in London and not long moved to Bedford. As well as being a good use of her skills, volunteering could also help her find her feet in the town.

A couple of months later she had swung into action, and looked completely at home, coming in once a week to make calls to carers.  Soon after, she successfully applied for one of our paid sessional worker activity roles. Then fast forward to September 2021, when Sandra was appointed from a raft of candidates as our very first mental health carer link worker.

Sandra starting out as an Early Response volunteer

Mick, Men’s walking group leader

 I jumped at the chance to lead this group as I am now happily retired and know what it’s like to be a carer having cared in the past for many years for my best mate and my Mum. I also thought that as a former carer support worker at CiB I had some experience and knowledge which may be helpful to male carers.

Being a carer is often so time consuming and tiring that it takes over your life and what you want to do has to be put on the back burner. The men’s only walking group has given the five current members a chance to get away from their usual caring regimes and to meet others on a social basis.

Mick (centre) with some members of the men’s walking group

Lynn, dementia services volunteer

I have been caring for an elderly aunt for some years now. When I managed to move her from Manchester to Bedford, I was introduced to Carers in Bedfordshire. Whilst chatting to a volunteer I was told about the grant system and I was lucky enough to receive funding towards paying for a gym membership.  Wow! How that helped me. The acknowledgment that I deserved to look after myself. Not having to feel guilty about spending money on myself. 
Realising how much the support has helped me I felt I wanted to do something for others. 
My professional career has given me skills that I feel are being unused at the moment and if I can offer those they will not be wasted. 

Lynn, carer and volunteer

Peter Memory navigator

Peter volunteered previously for CAB after taking early retirement. Another volunteer suggested his skills and friendly approach would be useful to us. He calls people who are signed up to the Memory Navigation service for a catch up and to signpost them to services, offer information, support and listen.

“I thoroughly enjoy speaking to carers on the telephone. They are all very appreciative of the call and that CIB is genuinely interested in their wellbeing and how we may be able to help”

Peter, doing a stint for the dementia team

Carers can feel isolated.

Keren, Ambassador

Keren joined our team of ambassadors who connect within their local communities to reach carers. She’s one of the friendly faces at local events who will tell carers about support for them from Carers in Bedfordshire. As a carer herself, she knows that people can struggle on their own and face isolation which harms their own well-being.

“I’d been with Carers in Beds for about 20 years. I care for 3 people – my partner and two of my children.

I decided to volunteer because I just felt in a better place. I had been volunteering at a special needs school for a while. Although my children are now adults and working, they still need more help”.

Roger, Ambassador

“While caring for my wife for over 10 years, we both received much advice and support from Carers in Bedfordshire. After she moved into nursing care, I wanted to volunteer to give something back but wasn’t sure how. Making tea and coffee at the cafés maybe? 

“I let slip I was used to public speaking and giving presentations at work. I also still lead church services and have preached many a sermon! So I soon found myself as a volunteer ambassador. I’ve spoken to lunch clubs, neighbourhood groups, patient and rehabilitation groups, other local charities and a few healthcare professional groups. As an introduction I share a little of my experiences as a long term carer, from when I didn’t even know I was a carer, through to becoming 24/7 hands-on. A little humour helps make things lighter for the audience.”

Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”

Sherry Anderson