Go with the flow - volunteering with Livability

Volunteering with Livability is a rewarding experience. Importantly, it makes a difference to those we support and our frontline staff. Active across the country, our volunteers support Livability through a wide range of activities and care. There is something for everyone, whether it’s virtual or in service activities  – it all adds up!

Maggie has recently joined Livability as a volunteer. As we mark #YouCanCareWeek, Maggie tells us what she offers and why volunteering gives her a boost.

How did you hear about Livability?

Originally through a good friend of mine, whose daughter was cared for at Livability’s Colchester service. She spent the last stretch of her life there and passed away in her twenties. Her mum spoke so highly of Livability, so I knew about the good work Livability does.

Where do you run classes for people supported by Livability?

At the moment, I do an online class once a month so anyone from Livability’s services around the country can join in. It’s part of the charity’s programme of wellbeing activities.

How long have you been doing yoga?

I trained as a yoga teacher in 2018 and finished just as Covid hit, so immediately I was doing classes on Zoom. The type of yoga I practise is yotism which specialises in techniques for neurodivergent people. It’s a gentle form of yoga that releases reflexes which may not have developed normally during infancy and growing up. It’s not a cure but it aids wellbeing.

How does this benefit people who are taking part?

I had one young adult with ADHD [Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] who was able to concentrate in the yoga class, and left feeling calm and with better wellbeing. He told me he could use some of the techniques he’d learned when he felt anxious about being in class at school.

Does it work for everyone?

I’m very aware that people at Livability have a wide range of neurodivergence and ability, so I spent a few sessions observing other Livability activity sessions to gain insight into what people were capable of. I find it a pleasure to plan classes because it makes me think about what I’m offering, to reach people who aren’t conventionally ‘able’. For some, gentle breathing may be what they gain the most from.

Why do you volunteer, Maggie?

Well, the reception and level of concentration you get from people who may find it hard to concentrate feels like a gift. You get back a lot more than you give.

What would you say to someone who was hesitant to volunteer because they have no experience of disability?

I can understand people being nervous but I would say just spend time observing a few sessions in whatever area you’re good at and there’s nothing to be nervous about. We’re all human and it’s great for your own learning and understanding of other people. Livability would love volunteers for all sorts of activities, online and in person at their services, so my advice would be – give it a go!

If you would like to find out more about volunteering opportunities, get in touch: volunteering@livability.org.uk

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