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  • Writer's pictureCardiff JLD

Volunteers' Week - Our Stories

We speak to three of our JLD Committee members who are regular volunteers, about their stories for Volunteers' Week.

Hannah Smith:

Since September 2023, I have been volunteering with Victim Support, where I assist staff teams in providing comprehensive emotional and practical support to crime victims. My goal is to help these individuals move forward from their experiences. Soon, I will manage my own caseload, focusing on victims who are hesitant to report their crimes to the police. My training has primarily involved supporting victims of stalking. I have provided practical assistance by supplying them with personal alarms and dummy cameras for their homes. Additionally, I have offered emotional support, listening to their concerns and providing a comforting presence. I am passionate about my work with Victim Support and look forward to helping more victims overcome their trauma and lead fulfilling lives.

Lana Quinlan:

Around a year and a half ago I began volunteering for MeningitisNow after contracting meningococcal meningitis just before moving to university. Before becoming ill myself I knew very little if anything about meningitis let alone that there was different strains or strains not covered by the vaccines. Before hand I would have never even thought myself at risk or known what the symptoms to look out for were therefore is it was not for me being at home I would have struggled to make it to the hospital or doctors in time.

A few months after being released from hospital I found myself hugely struggling mentally with concentration sleeping and anxiety alongside chronic headaches and migraines constantly which caused huge difficulty within my first year of my law degree. At this point I had no idea that these were all linked to the meningitis as I felt I left the hospital with very little information on potential after effects but after researching I came to find the charity MeningitisNow. This charity specialises is raising awareness but also aiding in the rehabilitation of people and families after their individual battles with meningitis. Since beginning my volunteer journey I have also come into contact with many other people further along their recovery process and also just been able to meet other young people in a similar position as me which has hugely benefited me in feeling normal and accepting the differences which meningitis has made upon my life.

While being a volunteer for this charity I have been provided with a huge amount of incredible opportunities to help raise awareness for the infection and tell my story. A year ago this week I was invited to a parliamentary reception for the launch of a report which aids with providing guidelines for the information which should be given to patients after facing meningitis to aid in them understanding the after effects and the aftercare process. This was hugely motivational and inspirational and an incredible experience to be able to be a part of. I have also been a guest on a university podcast to discuss the ways to focus on health when moving to university and managing stress as well as identifying meningitis symptoms. At several universities I have helped to host awareness stands due to the vulnerability of university students to this disease as well as at my own university Cardiff University writing an article to be released across the student platforms. As well as having another huge opportunity to be interviewed by Wales Online and The Mirror to share my story and to explain where to look and call for advice needed when it comes to meningitis.

Overall, this volunteering experience has both hugely boosted my own self confidence and lead to me further understanding myself and push forwards in my studies in law (especially motivating me within the medical negligence sector) even with the increased difficulties in studying and exam techniques but also has been hugely rewarding to know the potential help I have been involved in. I owe MeningitisNow a huge amount of gratitude for aiding with my recovery and with my volunteering I hope to aid more people to find out about this charity and be helped in the same ways I was alongside ensuring more people are aware of the disease itself and the symptoms to be aware of.

Kayleigh Davies Lewis:

I volunteer every Tuesday evening as an Explorer leader in my local Explorer group in Rhiwbina. The Explorer group spans the ages of 14 to 18 and allows children of all genders and from all backgrounds to attend. We aim to plan various activities for the Explorers every Tuesday with the aim of incorporating a different skill such as map reading, cooking and teamwork.

Further to our weekly meets, the Explorers are offered the opportunity to attend camps spanning in length in which they put their newfound skills to the test. They are encouraged to light fires, cook the dinners and generally keep the camp clean and tidy.

In general Explorer leaders volunteer to help teach the young Explorers important life skills in a way that is enjoyable and will allow the Explorer’s to actively participate in the sessions. We aim to encourage Explorers to make friends and become independent ready for their next venture when they reach the age of 18 and begin adulthood.

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