4th October, 2019
I was worried when I heard about Headway’s hub service being reduced as it meant I would lose one of my days at the hub. However, my social worker suggested I try volunteering in my local community after hearing what I’d learned from Headway, and that’s how I started at Soham Repair Café, which is held every Wednesday at Soham Library. What we do is in the name, people bring in their broken items and get them repaired for a small donation. I started as a general helper but recently I have helped repair a washing machine door hinge and the ‘pop button’ on a toaster! The lady who brought the toaster had been worrying about the cost of buying a new one, so it gave me a lot of satisfaction to help her and ease her worry a bit.
As well as the satisfaction from helping repair things, I get a lot of social benefits from meeting new people in my community and it’s surprised me how many people have heard of Headway Cambridgeshire. Headway has been the springboard to get my life back on track and it’s great that I can now use the skills gained at Headway, when volunteering at the repair café. I gained confidence, memory strategies, social skills and knowledge about the brain in the Forward Focus and Cognitive groups. Without a doubt, the peer mentoring course I did has helped massively with my communication skills. I learned that communication isn’t just talking, you have to be able to listen and understand others as well. I still attend Headway on Fridays and get a lot from Communication Group, Memory Group and Positive Thinking. All my sessions contribute to me improving as a volunteer at the café.
I felt down about the recent changes at Headway Cambridge, but it’s been a learning curve for me and now I see how positive change can be. It hasn’t all been negative, and I’ve liked the new challenges. I think I respect myself more now because I’m giving back to others and I can see that volunteers are the backbones of charities. I used to think volunteers were crazy for working for nothing but now I’m doing it, I’m enjoying every minute of it and knowing I’ve helped someone is the most important thing I take away from the day every week.
“ The Hospital Brain Injury Co-ordinator became someone who absolutely understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain. I could talk about my fears and worries. She was such a great support through the difficult days, but could also celebrate the small step successes, which was important to me. ”