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Abbeyfield & Wesley

30 November 2016

Operating as a charity and with a volunteer management board, Abbeyfield & Wesley believes it is important that quality services are offered for affordable living and that any surpluses are reinvested back into services provided

Abbeyfield and Wesley have a long history of volunteer involvement, they have 55 current active volunteers, voluntary trustees and a full time staff member co-ordinating all voluntary activities.

Two new volunteers joined Abbeyfield and Wesley in 2014, Gemma and Jamie, they supported the residents in the Ballymena house. The volunteers began by getting to know the residents and later they agreed a weekly visit to facilitate a variety of craft activities for the residents.  The residents took a bit of time to get involved with Gemma and Jamie, but over a few weeks their enjoyment levels grew. The residents participated in a number of varied activities ranging from making Easter bonnets and Stetsons to drawing in chalks, to salt dough modelling.

The project has been a huge success, it combated isolation and loneliness, it has become a focal point for the house and overall social interaction and confidence levels have increased. Abbeyfield and Wesley provided this project with little funding due to the generosity of their volunteer network. Ethel McDonald (a resident at Abbeyfield and Wesley) said “It’s great to have Gemma and Jamie come into work with us, we enjoy it all so much. I have participated in activities that I thought I wouldn’t have been able to do due to being partially sighted, it passes the time for us all and it gives us a good challenge and a great laugh”.

Gemma has a degree in Fine and Applied Arts but wants to go back to university and become an arts therapist. To become an arts therapist she needs some experience and she can get this through voluntary work. Gemma said “I chose to focus on elderly people and got into volunteering at Abbeyfield and Wesley in Ballymena through Volunteer Now. I come in and do arts and crafts workshops with the residents, it is great fun and I always look forward to coming in. The residents are quite willing with my many arts and crafts ideas”!

Jamie commented “Gemma and I started volunteering at Abbeyfield and Wesley on the same day. My career background was in social services but when I had my children I decided to take a career break and last year I thought it’s about time to give something back, I find the voluntary work extremely rewarding and myself and Gemma have become great friends with the residents now”.

To get involved in similar projects to Gemma and Jamie or to receive further information on volunteering with Abbeyfield & Wesley call 028 9036 5081 or visit www.abbeyfieldandwesley.org.uk.

You can also follow the link Volunteer House Friend to view a current opportunity they have on our website.