It’s Volunteers Week 2018 and we are showcasing some of our volunteer’s stories here on the website. Every single volunteer is important to us but we hope these stories will inspire you and if you are interested in volunteering with us check out our Volunteering section here
Zosia is the Cocktails in Care Homes Party Manager at Roseberry Mansions having previously been party manager in Peckham. We asked her to share her volunteering experiences:
“I’m a party manager for Cocktails in Care Homes, which is a project run by the intergenerational arts charity Magic Me. Once a month, my evening is remarkably lit up with drinks, stories, decorations and music at a local care home close to my work. This is no regular party – most attendees are over the age of 60, some with dementia, others with temporarily broken limbs, or long term learning difficulties. We have about 15 volunteers (mostly young professionals or students) that also come to keep residents company and enjoy a tipple too. My role as party manager is simple: arrive early and set up the bar, music and decorations for the party (we have incredible hand-made themed decorations each month). When the volunteers arrive, I sign them in, make them a drink and help them settle if it’s their first party. We sit around, tell stories, share how our week is going, and sometimes our musically-inclined volunteers bring along their instruments for a sing-along. This one evening a month is a chance for me to put things in perspective and learn from people older and wiser than me, with lives as rich as you can imagine. If I’ve had a stressful day at work, or I’m feeling a bit low, the experience always brings me into the present, allows me to reflect and realise the things I often take for granted. It can be hard too – you sometimes get the sad news that a resident has died – but the support of the care home staff and volunteers is always there. It’s an incredible project, and so simple – bring old and young together over drinks and music. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Why she became a Cocktails volunteer:
“I’ve always lived far away from grandparents. My grandmother lived in Poland, alone, and I was always acutely aware of her loneliness. We would call daily, but it’s not the same as regular interaction with people. Being alone for long periods of time can make your health deteriorate quickly, and I hope that our cocktail party is a regular little haven of social interaction that residents and volunteers can look forward to.”
“I’ve met some incredible people, from all walks of life, through the project. A resident who came to the UK from Jamaica when she was 17 to train as a nurse, and who was later awarded an MBE for her contribution to the NHS. Another resident who was a successful portrait artist, with paintings in the National Gallery. He had dementia but his artistic spirit never left him. I’ve met Londoners, born and bred, who’ve known the local area for decades, and can name all the local pubs and streets. That kind of stuff doesn’t leave you, even when you have dementia. Your spirit, your sense of location, your story, your inherent personality. It’s very powerful.”