HEL's Angels - Volunteers Keeping In Touch

As part of Volunteers' Week, we're catching up with the fabulous team who give up time to help in our Hackney day centre (when it's open!). We'll be asking about their experiences of volunteering, a bit more about their lives outside of Headway, and the ways they've been connecting with our community since lockdown.....

Phone

Judy and the HEL's Angels:

"The volunteers with brain injuries, set up a WhatsApp group about a year ago. We call ourselves 'HEL’s angels' (Headway East London) and there’s about 9 of us on there. It’s a really, really lovely group. We chat to each other a lot, but since lockdown we’ve been in touch everyday, sending each other puzzles or anything really, just to keep in touch. We’re such a tight group, whenever one of us is feeling down, the rest of us really do rush to their aid. I feel so blessed to be part of this team of special volunteers. It’s a very open and honest group…sometime’s too honest! And because the 'HEL’s Angels' group has worked out so well, I have just started a new WhatsApp group for the Hackney Support Group. That’s been going for about a month now.

Volunteers2
Sandra, Judy and Clare - 3 of the HEL's Angels

I’ve been calling members too, I speak to Lesley and Sophie, each week. It’s been really good. I’ve discovered with Sophie we’ve got a lot in common, and we literally spend the whole call laughing, it’s lovely. We never realised how much we had in common. When we were at Headway (pre lockdown), I barely spoke to Sophie, we chatted here and there, but not like we have done now. It means when we eventually go back, we’ll spend more time together, now we have this new found connection.

It’s really weird, I haven’t really struggled with being away from Headway during lockdown. I thought I would and I do miss seeing everyone, but I think, because I’m in touch with people everyday, and because of all the activities Headway are doing to keep us connected, I still feel very much part of the community, that we’re all still there."

During lockdown Judy has rediscovered her creative side and has been busy crafting...

"Before my injury, I used to make cards and sell them in a local shop. After my injury, I just couldn't do it, I couldn't sit there for long enough to concentrate on making anything, my creativity was just not there.

Last year I bought the bits and pieces I needed to start making again, but again, I just couldn't get into it. It's only during the last couple of months that I got it all out again and sat there and started cutting bits up and now I've made nearly 100 cards. Greetings cards, saying Happy Birthday, Thank you and I Miss You, all different. It's funny because if you look at the box of cards in order, you can really see the ones I started off with and how it's developed, the ones I've done recently are so much better.

I'm really loving being creative again. It's become part of my routine, I sit down at my table and get my stuff out and I can literally sit there for hours, not aware of the time, just snipping away and making them. I've sold two of them already, to raise money for Headway East London!

Photo 2020 06 02 17 03 45
Judy's greetings cards

Next up we spoke to Tim, who's a member at Headway and volunteer Clare, they both (ordinarily) join us at Headway on a Thursday. During lockdown they're keeping in touch with a weekly phone call...

Tim:

We had our weekly chat this morning, I enjoy it. I know Clare from Headway, she volunteers on a Thursday, the day I go. We’ve known each other since she first started volunteering. We have a little chat to see how we’re both getting on, what we’ve done, which is the same as last week - sod all! Then we do Zuber’s quiz. I enjoy the quiz, especially if I get the answers right.

Yeah it helps me feel connected, I’m missing Headway, I know it’s only one day a week, but I’m missing the routine.

Hels
The volunteer team catching up on zoom

Clare:

With Tim, he’s very easy to talk too, before you know it 45 minutes has gone by! We always finish by doing the quiz, which he likes. He does better than me, I get 3 right, I know very random things that other people don’t know.

You’ve got to be listening and make them feel like their being listened too and I’m not calling them because it’s a chore, I do enjoy it. I think we’ve built up a good rapport.

It makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile, in a time when you can’t really do anything else. I dunno, I suppose we all want to be valued to some extent, it’s not for other people, I do what I do and I actually enjoy doing it, which makes a difference, it’s personal self worth.

The volunteers with brain injuries have got their own WhatsApp group, which we’ve had for quite a while. It’s hilarious, just reading through it I’m in fits of laughter. It's such a good thing to have and it’s also a support for people, you know, as and when they need it. I know that if that I was stuck or had something on my mind, I could just send a message or call them.