Longfield student wants to inspire others to volunteer to support children with disabilities

21 year old Matthew Williams has been praised by national charity, Sense, for commitment to volunteering on holidays for children with disabilities.

Matthew Williams, a student at Canterbury Christ Church University, has been praised by a national charity for his volunteer work on holidays for children with complex disabilities, and is now calling on others in his position to volunteer on breaks across England and Wales.

For over 40 years, national disability charity, Sense, has provided a range of holidays and short breaks for children, young people and adults who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs. The breaks enable the holidaymakers to develop physically, socially and emotionally, and also provide vital respite for families from caring duties.

21-year-old Matthew, from Longfield, is studying ‘Special Educational Needs and Inclusion’ at the Kent based university has already volunteered on two breaks, with his third planned for this summer.  He credits the experience with giving him greater confidence in communicating and supporting people with disabilities, which will helps his development and future career.

Matthew, who this year will act as Deputy Holiday Leader, said:

“The experience has definitely given me confidence in communicating and supporting people with disabilities – being in an environment where the holidaymakers and volunteers are using British Sign Language is fantastic.

Every young person on the holiday achieved something, whether it was trying a new food or climbing extremely high ropes! I helped with everything from cooking meals and driving the minibus, to playing games with the holidaymakers. The training in advance meant that I was well prepared.

For anyone thinking of volunteering, but unsure if they’re suitable or have the right skillset, I’d say bite the bullet and go for it. You will be surprised at how much you have to offer, how much there is to learn and how much fun you will have.”

Eleanor Coker, Head of Volunteering at Sense, said:

“The holidays programme is dependent on the support of remarkable volunteers, like Matthew. The week is planned around the needs of the holidaymakers and our personalised approach means that we can support people to do what they want to do – however simple or complex this may be.

We are lucky to welcome each year a really diverse team of volunteers, from those with transferable skills and experience, to those completely new to volunteering and this kind of work. Our preparation activities make sure that everyone has the information and support they need to contribute to the smooth running of each holiday.”

Sense have a range of holidays and short breaks planned for 2017. If you are interested in volunteering please visit www.sense.org.uk .  Alternatively, call 0300 330 9250 or email holidays@sense.org.uk