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National Volunteer Week 2021 – Elaine Ashraf

laine Ashraf, aged 76, volunteers at the reception desk at Hagley Road Village and supports the Reminiscing Group.

“A friend was interested in living at Hagley before it was actually built. We went to all the preliminary meetings and signed up there and then as volunteers. We also attended the installation of the time capsule. I thought the village was a brilliant idea and was keen to get involved in something in my local area. I was already volunteering at a local school where I had been deputy head teacher and thought it would be good to work with older people.

“I love meeting the residents with a ‘good morning’ or a wave as they go past. I am pleased if I can help a resident with a problem, giving out information and directing them to where they need to be. I frequently have a chat with residents who tell me about their families, and I enjoy helping the receptionist with phone calls, filing, taking payments, and photocopying etc. I’m happy to undertake anything I’m asked to do. It’s good to be useful.

“At the Reminiscing Group we support people with dementia. We discuss past events through old photos and artefacts and encourage contributions through thought provoking questions or topics. It’s very rewarding to see people’s eyes light up when they see a photo or object that brings back memories. It’s lovely to hear comments from residents that they appreciate your help.

“The main thing I have discovered is how diverse residents’ lives are and how their needs are so different, how their needs should be catered for and how everyone should be respectful of each other. Residents’ past lives are so diverse and interesting and it’s lovely to hear their stories. I have also learned how important confidentiality, security and safeguarding of residents is. Although I had some skills already, volunteering has enabled me to continue using those skills but to develop further patience and listening to people whose problems may seem insignificant to us but are really important to them. It’s important to make residents feel that Hagley Road really is their home.

“If someone was thinking about signing up as a volunteer, I’d say definitely sign up. There are many roles for volunteers to undertake and it’s very rewarding for both the volunteer and residents. Volunteers can help in so many ways and it brings them and the feeling that they have helped themselves and the residents in some small way. There is a lovely atmosphere at Hagley Road and all the staff are really kind and helpful and welcoming.”