Sarah, accompanied by her dog Nuffy, volunteer at St Dominic's Residential Care Home playing Scrabble or cards with residents and more recently forming a choir.

It all started with an advertisement my parish magazine. Could you spare a couple of hours to play Scrabble or cards with our residents? Well spare time I had, having been made redundant six months before and searching for a job with little success.

I enjoy playing Scrabble so thought I would give it a go and fill in a bit of time until I returned to work. So I found myself at St Dominic’s Residential Care Home, conveniently round the corner from my home in Kelvedon. I was interviewed and accepted. Would the residents like me to bring my dog? Yes, how lovely.

Nuffy the dog
Nuffy the dog

So my dog Nuffy and I began our new adventure together. I am not sure what I was expecting but what I got was a whole new set of friends. I found I had to get to know people very fast and it felt a bit like social speed dating! Nuffy and I built up relationships and she proved a natural, knowing instinctively when to sit and be stroked or when to be more lively and make a lunge for the biscuit tin to cause a bit of amusement.

When I did get a job I realised that I couldn’t abandon my new friends at St. Dominic’s. Sometimes I go in feeling rushed and over busy, but then somehow the magic works again and I leave feeling refreshed, renewed and invigorated.

Being a music lover, and one for big ideas, I had the urge to get the residents singing and with the support of Jean Dolmor, the home manager, and fellow volunteers who are professional musicians, the St. Dominic’s Choir was born. It has been a fantastic experience and a joy to see residents throwing themselves into the music.

We now have regular choir practices and recently put on a concert at the home for families and friends. If I say it myself it was a great afternoon.

As Jean said:

The concert was a huge success and it’s wonderful that residents who often prefer to stay in their rooms are actively involved and really enjoying themselves. Singing raises the spirits and brings people together in a special way and we’re very proud of the choir and so grateful to our generous volunteers.

So you can tell that I’m a passionate about my volunteering. It’s the feeling that I am making a difference to someone’s life, cheering them up a bit, and that is overwhelming. I get far more out of the experience than the residents I’m sure. I feel so lucky to have made the connection with St. Dominic’s, though I don’t think I ever got to play a game of Scrabble!