Millbrook Spring Fayre

xbunnies_eggs.jpg.pagespeed.ic.OfPmEtjabcSome of our volunteers were recently involved with the Millbrook Spring Fayre, which was held on Thursday 6th April.  One of our volunteers, Shelia, attends the Millbrook Steering Group which is linked to Millbrook LIVE and helps to support and arrange the Spring, Summer and Christmas Fayres.

The Spring Fayre was held in the reception area of Millbrook and they had also opened up the old music room. There were stalls with baked savoury items and cakes; some baked and donated by our volunteers Sheila and Michael, and other cakes decorated by patients on the wards. Craft stalls included some donated items by members of the public and some made and donated by patients. There were also book stalls and a second hand clothing stall; themed games “Throw the carrot through the rabbits mouth”; and a tombola stall run by another volunteer, Ingrid. A “Best Easter Egg” competition was held and Ingrid judged what she thought was the best papier mache egg which had been decorated by patients. The winner won a chocolate egg.sunny_daffodils-2Feedback from our volunteers who attended was that the attendance was quite good despite a dip around lunchtime. They enjoyed meeting patients and bringing in new faces for them to meet to add variety to their day. They thought the atmosphere was nice and that patients went away pleased.

In total, £116.50 was raised which will be used for charitable funds. The next Fayre will be in Summer on the 3rd August 2017 with a garden party theme with croquet and afternoon tea.

Volunteering is good for self-esteem


By Elizabeth Fisher

If you have low self-esteem, then getting out of your comfort zone and volunteering will help improve your self-esteem.

I volunteer at another place, as well as at Rosewood Involvement Centre. The other place I volunteer at was my first volunteer work and I was at my lowest moment prior to starting there; not feeling good because of work, confidence really low and I was depressed. I also started shutting off people close to me by not speaking.

I like helping where I can, enjoying a wide variety of tasks and it improved my confidence and made me speak, which in turn made me feel I could speak up again to family, or close friends. I also felt useful.

Joining Rosewood was the best move I made, and I hope to gain lots of experience here and it has improved my confidence further. It’s a place where I feel I belong amongst the other volunteers, working as a team with them and staff members.

So I definitely recommend volunteering to anyone. Just find what you’d like to do when it comes to volunteering, as there are different places you can volunteer at and give it a go. Volunteering improves your self-esteem and confidence, it can also be good for your CV, as well as for the company/charity you volunteer for.

Touched by Tesco

Thomas Madar

Thomas Madar – Involvement Volunteer

Experiences of Life and Employment Part 4

My final assignment was worked out offices of this well-known supermarket chain located at an enormous depot occupying the south end of Hatfield. It covered the last six months of 2007, from high summer to the dead of winter. Work varied from updating legacy software to cope with the supermarket’s expansion to the decommissioning of outdated information systems.

My performance was good. Time and task management lessons learned from a previous assignment continued to be put into practice and I became well noted for my thoroughness of my work. However, this was an emotionally rough assignment for reasons which originated well outside the world of work.

Because of my past, I was very sensitive to being left out of conversations, or being ignored in small social groupings. On a Saturday outing to Matlock Bath which was organised by my local Christian Friendship Fellowship group, I experienced a prolonged period of being ignored by the other members of a small group of which I was a member. This upset me greatly. I suffered sustained feelings of social worthlessness and mood swings which lasted until well after the beginning of the following working week, and which impacted on my relationship with others in the working team.

My mood swings triggered off an attack of insomnia which lasted for several weeks. For days at a time, I woke in the small hours of the morning and was unable to return to sleep, with the result that I was fatigued for all of the following day. I suffered periods of drowsiness which were noticeable to my assignment manager. Whenever this happened, I was asked to leave my desk and take a walk around the offices in the hope that exercise and fresh air would keep me awake.

Eventually, my emotions settled down, and I began to sleep well again. But some damage must have been done because unlike with Barclays Bank, my six month contract was not extended. I was also reported to occupational health in the hope that something could be done to relieve any future outbreaks of this nature.

The End

Following the end of my Tesco assignment, I found myself on the Bench. The Bench was a reserve list of employees who were looking for assignments, but were currently unemployed. Recent rules stated that if an employee was on the Bench for more than two months, then a notice of redundancy would follow. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any subsequent assignments commensurate with my skill set, or which did not require a substantial amount of verbal interaction with Xansa clients. This eventually led to me being made redundant in the autumn of 2008.

Thomas is continuing to volunteer for us and in between searching for jobs is a valued member of our Involvement Team helping us to improve our feedback website functionality.


International Volunteer Day

Monday, 5 December 2016

International Volunteer Day

5 December is International Volunteer Day. One of our volunteers, Thomas, has written his volunteering story.

How I volunteer

I am now an established volunteer for Nottingham Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, with all of my work based at their offices at Duncan Macmillan House on Portchester Road.

With well-established skills in software development, and more recently, qualifications and skills in website related development, my main area of volunteering is in developing a more dynamic front end to a website used for managing and reporting on the feedback of patients on the services which they have received from the NHS. More specifically, I will be replacing graphical information presented as a static picture with graphics generated dynamically from information in a database.

With experience of being on the autistic spectrum, I also volunteer for Story Shop afternoons. On such afternoons, a number of us travel to a venue (a local teaching hospital, the offices of the local authority, or a public library) to give an account of our health related experiences to successive groups of medical students, local authority employees, or interested members of the public. On such afternoons, I talk about my experiences of being on the autistic spectrum.

My journey into volunteering

In 2011, I became involved in an NHS related Community of Interest group dedicated to publicising the issues faced by people on the autistic spectrum. By this means, I was introduced to the Duncan Macmillan House Involvement Centre, the people who I know there, and Story Shop volunteering.

In 2014, enthusiasm faded for the Community of Interest group, and I found work as a contract software tester in London. Halfway through this year, this contract came to an end, leaving me unemployed.

My situation came to the attention of Duncan Macmillan House at about the same time as the requirement to add dynamic graphics to the patient feedback website.

What volunteering means to me

Being between paid employments, the act of volunteering gets me out of the house and on to premises where I can work with other people and hence feel less isolated.

My role in website related software development means that I am using skills which would otherwise lie dormant. In addition, I am expanding my skill set with new skills which will make me more employable.

My work is extremely interesting, and I enjoy overcoming the challenges presented by it. In time, I will have evidence of new skills learned which I can present to prospective employers.

The act of volunteering means that I am giving something to the community, hopefully an effort which will be well appreciated.

Winter 2006

Thomas Madar- Involvement Volunteer Experiences of Life and Employment Part 3

On my return from Christmas, I had scarcely sat down at my regular desk when my senior manager presented me with a New Year surprise. My presence would again be required at Post Office premises in Chesterfield, this time to participate in a little software development

My assignment was to document and enhance a Microsoft spreadsheet based Visual Basic application which compared two sets of records of a single set of financial transactions and which reported any discrepancies on the spreadsheet.

The commute was little easier than last time. The offices were a little closer to the station, and in appreciation of the time taken for me to commute, I was allowed to arrive later than nine in the morning.

The laptop which I received was set up correctly and I had no problems with accessing my e-mails.

I thoroughly enjoyed the task and was well noted for the quality of my work. Regretfully, after two weeks, I had to leave this assignment because there was no more finance in the budget for this contract.

In the Belly of the Money Beast

Another assignment was working for Barclays Bank at their regional offices near Knutsford in Cheshire. This lasted ten months, from the summer of 2006 to the spring of 2007. Work was required to update their Securities Database and the software associated with it so as to conform to the Basel 2 Accord Standard. This included index linking the value of the securities listed in the database so that their value was automatically incremented by the rate of inflation. The programming languages and environment were what I had been used to at Boots the Chemist.

Time management lessons learned previously were put into practice. My improved level of time and task management, together with my thorough level of testing and a reasonable relationship with my team made this assignment one of the high points of my software development career. However, this assignment was not without its problems.

The main problem was the means by which employees were required to pay for their canteen meals and refreshments. Payment was effected by means of an electronic purse-card which could be charged with cash directly from the holder’s bank account. There was no hole in the card by which it could be attached to a lanyard or a key ring. And the vending machines operated by this card gave the holder the refreshment vended before returning the card. It was all too easy to walk away from a machine without a card, which if loaded with cash, could disappear. Being a forgetful person, this is how I lost a substantial sum of money.

Nevertheless, the canteen was one of the best in which I had the pleasure to eat a meal. On Thursdays, they served a very good curry with all the accompaniments. They also had an excellent sandwich bar from which I could buy rolls filled at the counter for my evening meal.

The Barclays campus had an on-site gym, which for a modest subscription, I could use for some much needed exercise. Frequently, I worked out long after other staff had left, which did not make me popular with the health and safety conscious security staff.

My accommodation was also the best which I had ever stayed at for any far away assignment. It was a privately run bed and breakfast hotel run by a friendly Christian couple and a short walk away from the offices. For a very reasonable price, one had a superb room with TV, tea and coffee, and private facilities….and an excellent breakfast. This made use of the gym all the more necessary.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end…and so did my Barclays assignment. After ten months, my manager told me that there was no more suitable work for me, and so I had to return home.

Next week ‘Touched by Tesco’ Thomas concludes his work experience blog

Thomas and volunteer colleague