I get so bored at home. I can’t wait to come on a residential with you!
- Volunteers at our adult social club.
After relocating to Oxford, I really wanted to do something that made a positive difference to my new community; Monday Night Club is a fantastic project that enables- the first time I volunteered I was impressed by the supportiveness and dedication of Yellow Sub staff!
- Volunteers at our Oxford Youth Club.
It has been such a memorable experience, and volunteering here has really improved my confidence. I will be sad to leave when I go off to Uni, but will definitely come back to volunteer during the holidays. For anyone thinking of volunteering with Yellow sub, as Shia Labeouf would say, just do it!
I would be surprised if someone wasn't nervous volunteering at their first session, I know I was, especially as I didn't know what to expect. I thought I would be left not knowing what to do or how to interact with the members, but I have never been so wrong! The activity leaders and other staff members are the friendliest, most welcoming people I have ever met, who care about their volunteers just as much as their members. The activity leader briefs us before each session so I know exactly what to do and I get along with the members and other volunteers really well. The young people thoroughly enjoy each week, and making them laugh and smile honestly gives me the most rewarding feeling. The creativity and thought put into each session is incredible, and I feel honoured to work with such an inspirational charity.
- Volunteers on our young people's activities.
Firstly I was introduced to the yellow submarine team and introduced to the support team so that I felt reassured by the support. We went through which people would be attending the sports day. We heard about their personalities and the names were suddenly becoming people. I watched parents lovingly leave their children to our care and I was suddenly aware of the trust involved in us as volunteers. I realised what an important job this was. I saw children arrive a little bit shy and uncertain, I saw friends greet friends who had been there before. After a chat it was then into the fun, and for the morning I chatted with different people as we swam, played football and then went bowling. Everyone was having fun so it was hard not to! I was responsible for three lovely boys who were brilliant. My main responsibilities were making sure they were in the right place at the right time and for the rest of the time playing sport, chatting and having fun! After a day of laughs, shrieks and celebrations as people scored goals, strikes and spares we watched the smiling excited and not shy children be greeted by smiling parents. So my first time was all of the above, a bit scary, a bit emotional and a little out of my comfort zone... and I can't wait to do it again... My dad has a saying, you only get out of it what you put into it, but volunteering I actually think you get more out of it than you put into it. Go on take the leap...
My first time volunteering was quite nerve racking, the not knowing what to expect. I was worried I might feel out of my comfort zone, it might feel scary and emotional.
- Volunteers at our adult social club.
Volunteering at the Monday Night Club has been one of the most positive experiences I’ve had since being at university. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was nervous before the members arrived at my first session. However, after a couple of minutes, I felt at ease and welcomed into the lively, fun-loving, and friendly group of members and volunteers. Each week brings a host of new and exciting activities organised by Sarah- from baking to Bingo. We all very much enjoyed our trip to the cinema to see Paddington 2; I look forward to helping out with many more trips in the future. It is incredibly rewarding to share the joy and excitement of the members, and to go home feeling like I’ve made a difference. I highly recommend getting involved with Yellow Submarine!
- Volunteers at our Compass Project.
My first time volunteering at the Thursday Compass Project was simply lovely. Of course, I was nervous before I came but as soon as I arrived I realised that everyone there is so kind and helpful. One thing that made me feel so comfortable there was that people will know or learn your name and then ask you about how your day has been at Yellow Submarine.
As soon as I arrived I noticed that I had absolutely nothing to be nervous about! During my first day I enjoyed the sandwich run and watching everyone work with the iPad and the money, I loved getting to know the people who came and thoroughly enjoyed playing bowling with them! They are a great bunch of people at Yellow Submarine, so lovely and easy to chat to and they really do great work.
- Volunteers at Monday Night Club and Compass.
I didn’t have any previous experience working with young people with learning difficulties and so wasn’t sure what to expect at all. I really wanted a gentle introduction so as to find my feet, and for this reason I began by attending one of the charity’s Compass sessions, working with a small and relatively reserved group which allowed me to get a sense of things in a pretty calm and relaxed environment. However, my first week of volunteering also happened to coincide with the Monday Night Club’s Christmas party, one of the biggest events of the year at Yellow Submarine. It was quite a contrast! The members that night were a supercharged bundle of noise, movement and energy, and the room was brimming with excitement in anticipation of the evening’s plans. I was quite apprehensive, and worried that interacting with such a lively bunch might be challenging. But I need not have worried, as I was very quickly made to feel at home – not only by the ever-helpful and welcoming staff but above all by the members themselves. In the space of a few short minutes I was greeted by a succession of friendly faces who wanted to introduce themselves, tell me about their days, their favourite things, their Christmas holiday plans, and to find out what football team I supported. I was surprised by how articulate, independent and confident many of the members were, and wondered how I would ever remember so many new names! We eventually set off for a meal and end-of-year awards ceremony in a local pub, and I came home that night having enjoyed myself so much that I knew Yellow Submarine would become a regular part of my life. Within a few weeks, I knew pretty much every member by name and vice versa, and as time has gone on I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each of them as unique, often hilarious, and always inspiring individuals. I would recommend Yellow Submarine to anyone. For me, it has genuinely been one of the most fulfilling and enriching experiences I’ve had. The staff could not be more friendly and supportive, and I leave each session with the feeling that I’ve made a real difference to these young people’s lives. Despite my initial reservations, Monday Night Club has become a real highlight. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to the start of the week quite like I do now! There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Volunteering with people with learning difficulties was something that I had been interested in for a long time, but when searching for opportunities online it wasn’t until I came across Yellow Submarine’s website that I was really inspired to step out of my comfort zone and sign up. I had unwittingly walked past the charity’s café on Park End Street for many years without ever realising the incredible projects that went on inside. Reading about the organisation and the experiences of other volunteers, I was instantly struck not only by the variety of activities that were put on but also by how much fun everyone seemed to be having doing them! So when I came in to discuss volunteering, I was already sold.
- Volunteers at Monday Night Club.
I started volunteering about 6 months ago with the Monday night club. I knew very little about the organisation apart from what I had read on the website. I went along to one of sessions and was greeted by a great group of young people. I was made to feel extremely welcome. The club has a great atmosphere, it's full of characters and everyone has a great time including the volunteers. If I had any reservations about helping out they were soon banished. I enjoy my time with yellow sub so much that I now help with the sandwich run on a Friday morning as well.
- Volunteers on our young people's activities.
I have been volunteering for YP Youth Club for 9 months and can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute. I was nervous the first time. But the welcome I received from the YP. The help and support from the magnificent staff made me soon realise there was nothing to be nervous about. As well as the weekly youth club, which is full of laughter and joy, I have helped out with day activities and residential trips. These were awesome. Well organised and well ran. I am enjoying it so much I have now started volunteering for the 18+ club and I am looking forward to doing more. I recommend volunteering for Yellow Submarine. They are an amazing charity.
- Volunteers at Witney Youth Club.
The creativity that goes into planning each session is amazing and we have been on so many adventures like going to the fair (on the first week I volunteered!) and more recently, visited by an animal expert who brought in lots of adorable creatures including an African Pygmy Hedgehog which everyone loved! One of my favourite parts of each week is the check in when everyone sits together and takes it in turns to tell the group about their week, enabling us all to celebrate the successes (however small or big). Yellow Submarine is the highlight of my week, there is never a session when we’re not laughing together!
Before I started volunteering at Yellow Submarine, I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. However, the staff were really reassuring and I was never left not knowing what to do or dealing with an incident on my own. I have been volunteering at the Tuesday night club for five months now and over that time I have really valued the time spent getting to know each member of the gang - some of the most positive people I have ever met with completely infectious smiles!
- Volunteers on our young people's activities.
My favourite part of volunteering at yellow submarine is getting to know the individual young people with their own unique personalities. It is incredibly rewarding to see the smiles on their faces and the enthusiasm the staff and members have for yellow submarine. Yellow submarine is an amazing charity that I am happy to be a part of and I would encourage anyone who enjoys working with young people to not hesitate and join in the fun.
I was nervous for my first time volunteering about going because I had never done anything like it before and am a shy person. My first day was a sports day where I was met by lovely staff and members who were very welcoming and made sure I was okay as it was my first time. It was a blast swimming, getting splashed and seeing the smiles on their faces (I would advise goggles) and to finish the fun day out a bowling trip. Where it was lovely to see the members interacting, helping and teaching each other to bowl. Since then I have been volunteering at a youth club most weeks where I have done lots of fun activities such as pizza making and a version of bingo that included edible bugs!
- Volunteers at our adult social club.
Monday Night Club offered the ideal way to find my feet again with volunteering. I hadn’t volunteered for a very long time, and since relocating I’d also struggled to find a role that I could fit in around my work, get to with limited transport and have an opportunity to work with a range of ages. Yellow Submarine and especially Monday Night club easily met all of that, and after having met one of the staff in the café for a quick chat I was very much looking forward to getting started. There is always something to get involved with and the members make you feel welcome straight away as do the other volunteers and staff. The help and support offered by Yellow Submarine and the way the sessions run certainly means it’s a great place to volunteer whether it’s your first time and the whole idea is nerve racking or you’re re-finding your feet! No matter how much of a long day you have had working, studying or whatever your day to day is, as soon as the room is full with chatter it’s a great place to be.
To sum it up in three words: fun, energetic, and welcoming.
- Volunteers on our young people's activities.
Both staff and the children make you feel very welcome when you first join and I felt comfortable straight away. The brief at the beginning of each session informs you of everything you need to know about the day and if you don’t understand anything then the activity leaders are always happy to answer questions or give you more information. Volunteering is definitely an experience you won’t forget. I still look forward to each day I volunteer, as I know they are going to be packed with exciting activities that the young people are going to love and enjoy and create memories from. Volunteering also gives me something to do in my spare time in the holidays and has benefited me greatly, as I feel that it has made me a much more confident person. Without hesitation, volunteering for yellow submarine will be one of the best decisions of your life.
I initially joined yellow submarine to help me complete my Duke of Edinburgh Award and it sounded like the perfect volunteering opportunity. Little did I know that I would enjoy it so much that two years later I would still be volunteering for activity days.
- Interned with us over Summer 2017
My first day just so happened to be the day we headed off to Paris for one of their many residential trips, so I began my shift by lugging my suitcase into the back of the minibus and heading off to France for a week. I was honestly filled with so many emotions – would I like this? Had I made the right decision? Would the kids like me? Well, it’s safe to say that the answer to all of my questions was – yes! Throughout my time at The Yellow Submarine, I’ve been greeted with nothing but love and support, from staff, adults and young people alike. Every day is a new adventure, and watching the people we support to blossom into fulfilled individuals is one of the most gratifying feelings you can get. If you can, I would strongly suggest you go in and give it a try. You have nothing to lose, and so much to gain
I began volunteering for The Yellow Submarine in 2017 as part of their summer intern program, and it was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made to date.
- Volunteers at our Oxford youth club.
Thinking back to my first day as a Yellow Submarine volunteer, I definitely felt the, normal, mixed bag of emotions: nerves and excitement. However, I can happily say that the latter was more prominent and this hasn’t changed during my time with the charity. The majority of sessions are structured and have a theme. Pizza Night, Bonfire Night, Chinese New Year and the Christmas party are to name but a few. There have also been unstructured sessions which are more chilled and laid-back, and have been just as successful. All the young people and their needs are definitely accommodated for. This incredible and thoughtful charity wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for its people. The young people are so friendly and such fun to be around – there is always someone to talk to; the leaders and staff are the most welcoming and helpful people that I have ever met. I cannot stress enough how genuine and kind-hearted everyone is. I am grateful and thankful to be surrounded by individuals who have the ability to make my time so extremely rewarding. I leave every session with a smile, feeling enthusiastic about the next one and motivated to ensure that the young people enjoy their time. The help you give as a volunteer is made so much more worthwhile when you see the smiles and hear the laughter. Reflecting back on the months that I have spent with this ambitious charity, I am extremely glad that I said “yes”. If you have the accessibility to such opportunities, then I would highly recommend getting involved. At least you can say that you tried something new and got an experience out of it – a superb one in this case! I will miss Yellow Submarine tremendously when I go off to university, but I am sure that I will be back to help out with their numerous holiday activities. It is something wonderful that I will look back on in future.
I heard about Yellow Submarine through a close friend of mine. After reading a bit more about the charity, I thought to myself that this is something which I should just grasp with both hands (and I’m so glad I did, as you will discover). So I filled in the online application form and received a very prompt reply.
- Volunteers at Monday Night Club.
The staff at Yellow Submarine really are incredible. They are so committed to the members and are always on hand to check that nothing has gone unnoticed or anyone is feeling down. The members themselves…well how do you describe them?! Intelligent, confident and independent – all traits which I truly believe are because of Yellow Submarine. The importance of independence is the thing that I find most rewarding - seeing someone completing a task, which a few weeks ago may not have been able to do it, really makes everything worthwhile. I cannot rave enough about the importance of the work that Yellow Submarine do. If in any doubt, just pop along and see them. I can guarantee that you’ll be just like me – within minutes you’ll be hooked!
Any hesitations I had on my first week of volunteering were quickly dismissed within ten minutes of Monday Night Club. I couldn’t think of a more cheery, chatty and entertaining group of people to spend an evening with.
- Volunteered at our youth club.
I have had only positive experiences through out my almost 2 years volunteering with the Yellow Submarine. The team was always friendly and welcoming. I joined the weekly teens club, did one day trip and one holiday trip with Yellow Submarine. In every situation I felt supported, knowing what was expected from me, and had the opportunity to be myself and enjoy the group of participants. It all ended with my working visa, otherwise I would have keep going. 🙂 I always looked forward to the time with Yellow Submarine, it is an organization that cares and is dedicated to the individuals with special needs. I feel honoured to have volunteered with Yellow Submarine. Thank you, Yellow Sub, for creating wonderful memories in my life!
- Student Placement during 2017
I am very thankful for being part of the team and always feeling welcome. I had so much fun volunteering in all the sessions and activities because their always was happiness, laughs, excitement, and joy with all the service users I had worked with. I had really seen how the charity promoted a positive and person-centered environment for their service users. When it came to the end of my placement I did feel quite sad to leave. So I decided to continue volunteering in the summer which was a very memorable and enjoyable experience. I would like to continue volunteering in the future. I also would definitely recommend this volunteering experience to anyone who is passionate about helping service users to be socially included, encouraging confidence, independence, initiative and creativity!!!
I started working with Yellow Submarine in March 2017 as part of my 70-day University placement. At the time I didn’t know a lot about the charity so I did some research online. I was provided with more information about the charity in my induction which I found really helpful. I do remember being quite nervous working with the team and service users in my first week. There really was nothing to worry about as the staff, activity leaders and service users made me feel welcome. I was able to help with activities in both the Oxford and Witney Youth Clubs, Compass Project groups and School holiday activities (i.e Explore days, Forest days, Youth Club days and Multi-sport days). There were also many opportunities to creating new activity ideas with the activity leaders.
- Volunteers at our Compass Project.
I think the work Yellow Submarine does is really incredible and you can tell how much the members enjoy it, and getting to be part of an organisation that is bringing that much happiness to people is really rewarding. Unfortunately I have exams very soon so have had to stop my volunteering, and I can honestly say I really miss it. I plan on getting back involved straight after my exams finish, and would really recommend anyone who has the time to consider joining - you won't regret it!
I volunteer with the Oxford Wednesday Compass project. My role has mainly been to support the members in their task, helping out when things are difficult and just trying to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Whilst I was nervous before my first time volunteering I found the experience hugely enjoyable! Everyone at Compass - both the members and the other support workers - are very warm and welcoming and made me feel at ease from the beginning. What project we are focusing on changes every week which makes each voluntary experience different and exciting - I have done everything from fashioning cards to making hot chocolate spoons!
- Volunteers at our Witney youth club.
I can honestly say that being a volunteer for Yellow Submarine is the most rewarding thing I have done. I was a bit nervous at first but in no time at all I was made to feel a worthwhile member of the team and someone to have fun with by the guys that attend the Witney Youth club. They are such a great bunch of kids, all out to have a good time with old friends and happy to welcome newcommers too.
- Volunteers on our young people's activities.
I was 17 when I started volunteering for Yellow Submarine. My first session was a Hub Day, where we also went on a trip to the Story museum. Initially, I was nervous. However upon meeting some amazing unique members and staff, who were all so so friendly and supportive, I felt so incredibly relaxed and had some good fun! I have now volunteered for Yellow Sub on their activity days during the holidays and felt that every time I have made some unforgettable memories. I find myself lucky to have one of my first volunteering experiences with Yellow submarine. Yellow Submarine is such an amazing charity with great staff and I would highly recommend anyone to volunteer because the experience is just so rewarding.
- Volunteers at our Witney youth club.
I even volunteered to help out with the Christmas pantomime, it was such a fun day and all the young people enjoyed it, the excitement we had in the mini-bus beforehand was unforgettable! I am looking forward to volunteering more in the future (even going on holiday!). I will never forget this experience, I'm off to University in September 2016 and I can honestly say, I will really miss volunteering. I'd definitely recommend volunteering for Yellow Submarine, they are such an amazing charity.
I volunteer for the young person's Youth Club and I can honestly say that my experience so far has been a memorable one, I absolutely love it. At first, I was extremely nervous as I didn't know what to expect but I received nothing but warm welcomes by all the young people and staff that attend the youth club. The atmosphere is incredible - full of laughs, happiness and joy. Every week I look forward to volunteering as I know I can make a young person smile, it is extremely rewarding.
- Volunteers at our Oxford Youth Club.
I would recommend volunteering to anyone thinking about it, it's a really enjoyable experience and you get to meet great people.
I've been volunteering at the Thursday night club for a few weeks now. Before I started I was apprehensive about what to expect - however, once there, I quickly lost any nerves I had. Everyone there was so friendly and the session was really fun. Each session is a rewarding experience and you can tell that everyone who turns up really enjoys it and values having you there. The main worry for me was how those coming to the sessions would find me and, most importantly, whether or not we would get along. Luckily, once I arrived it became clear my worries were without cause - we all get along really well. Each session is different and put together in a way that includes everyone, making sure we all have a good time.
I had never spoken to a child with a learning disability before and had no idea what to say or how they would react.
In the event I found they were just like every other teenager......chatty, irreverent, interested in sport and relationships, great fun. I needn't have worried.
I am in my sixties and hadn't worked much with those who have autism and Down's: I needn't have worried at all though. The people I was there to help were marvelous: kind and helpful and great company; it was a very rewarding time for me.
The Yellow Sub professional staff are fantastic and handle any tricky situations that come along with professionalism and great humour and fun.
It was a wonderful and memorable experience for me.
It feels a long time ago that I volunteered on Yellow Submarine's surfing holiday to Cornwall. It changed my life.
Just wanted to let you know I have given up being a builder and have now been working in care for two months now, and I absolutely love it.
The agency/office side has challenges, but the work is giving me satisfaction beyond belief, and I have some great clients.
Don't want to get too deep with you, but I was a little lost on the old path of life, and I really think I have found my calling with this work.
There is only one thing to thank for that, and that is Yellow Submarine. I owe you a debt of gratitude that I don't feel I can repay, but am hoping dinner and a nice bottle of wine next time we meet will cover it!
- Volunteered on an adult residential trip
My first time volunteering for Yellow Submarine was a real eye opener for me. The warmth and open heartedness of the “holidayers” is something that I hadn't come across very often before. There was also a lot of good natured and inclusive laughter throughout the holiday. My trip started when I got into the Yellow Submarine minibus which had already picked up everyone else in London and was about to set off for Wales. What struck me immediately was how welcoming the group was, both the staff and the holidayers. As a child I was quite introverted and even today, when confronted by groups of strangers, my natural tendency is to remain quiet in the hope of passing largely unnoticed. Added to that on this occasion I felt slight anxiety caused by wondering how to behave and what to say to the holidayers - something I think everyone will feel to some extent the first time they volunteer with people with learning difficulties. Those feelings began fading away when we stopped for lunch on the M4. That's when I had my first opportunity to have a few longer chats with individual members of the group. Their characters varied quite a bit as you'd expect but they also had things in common, most notably perhaps a love of making jokes and a gentle and sincere friendliness that I can't help thinking is quite rare in adult life. Also, there was a deep love of football felt and expressed by almost everyone. By the time we arrived in Wales and had sat down for dinner I was really enjoying being accepted as part of the group, especially since I was being showered with polite remarks about that evening's barbecue which I had been cluelessly in charge of.
The holiday continued in much the same way. Although it was a lot of fun there was also a serious work component involved too; after all volunteers aren't there on holiday, unlike the holidayers. Tasks included preparing meals, always being vigilant and safety conscious, especially in public places, and generally checking in with everyone to make sure they're having a nice time. Moments did crop up from time to time when I wouldn't understand what a hoidayer was trying to tell me and I think I learnt that in that kind of situation it is best not to pretend that you understand, which can be tempting at first, since that never gets you very far. There were other moments when individual members of the group might get frustrated or upset by a situation but at these times the Yellow Submarine staff were very effective at finding a way to the remedy the situation, a skill that comes with experience I imagine. For me it was an uplifting experience to be around people who are so clearly and uninhibitedly enjoying themselves and I found that that enjoyment quickly became infectious. In the games room there were some epic table tennis matches and pool games which became the source of much laughter. One morning we went down an old Welsh mine; the horrible conditions of the mine workers certainly captured the imagination of some of the group. Another day we rented electric boats on a canal and had to negotiate several complicated locks (as well as manage some fairly chaotic steering). On the final evening we went to watch a musical in Newport, an experience which everyone enjoyed immensely, in particular meeting the stars of the show after the performance.
I think I would recommend volunteering with Yellow Submarine to everyone, no matter what age, background, or previous experience (or lack of experience) of working with people with learning difficulties they have. Yellow Submarine staff members were always on hand and happy to help or take over in any situations for which I felt underprepared which made me feel that there was an excellent support network in place and that I would never be asked to do too much or anything that I felt uncomfortable with. I value my volunteering experience with Yellow Submarine and look forward to doing it again in the future.
- Volunteer & previous trustee
One of my earliest trips with Yellow Submarine was to Wales in 2010 with Lin & Michelle. We had a great time at a local barn dance, having a coastal walk and making food together. One day we cooked jacket potatoes.
Lin doesn’t get to do much cooking at home. She was so proud of herself when she had grated lots of cheese for our potatoes with a helping hand from Michelle. This is what Yellow Submarine is all about- people helping each other to get confidence and pleasure from even the small things in life.
As a volunteer I didn’t have to do anything scary- just make sure they were safe and happy and then the experiences just happened in ways you can’t always plan- it was very rewarding!
I have a lot of experience with people who have learning difficulties, my sister is Autistic, I thought I one day might like to work with people like her. When I was sixteen I applied for my first volunteer role with a charity called 'The Western Corner Project' it was through this group I heard about Yellow Submarine, a lot of the young people were involved with both and they were very similar. Unfortunately, Western Corner lost its government funding and closed down, I was really disappointed, I had only volunteered from the Easter Holidays through to the summer and I enjoyed every second of it.
A couple of years later as I was coming to the end of my A Levels I decided I would like to do some voluntary work again, I couldn't find anything! Which was when I remembered hearing about Yellow Submarine, I decided to look into what they do and realised it was exactly what I was looking for. I sent off an application and the same day heard back saying they'd like to meet me, the process was quick and easy and I was invited for a trial day at The Hub a couple of weeks later, I was nervous but there was no need, the staff were all really kind and friendly and the young people were great fun, there was loads going on and there wasn't a dull moment.
A year and a half later there still isn't, I love Yellow Submarine and would recommend anyone to get involved!
My first time volunteering was when Toby asked me to come along to a QPR game in London. The opposition on the day escapes me, as does the result, but we witnessed a QPR win and had some incredibly good fun at the same time.
We met at the Ladbroke Grove tube with three other volunteers and a group of twelve keen local “Hoops” fans with learning disabilities. After my initial nerves subsided, nothing more than having never done any volunteering like this before, I soon relaxed and started getting to know everyone. Football helped, it’s a common language, and I realised how happy everyone was to be going to the game, keen to get a cup of tea and to see a QPR victory!
Just like any other Saturday footie match, well almost. Firstly, I soon realised that John had an extraordinary memory for goals and football statistics, every time I mentioned a recent game John would tell me the score and scorers and I suspect he would remember the result of the game in question a lot more clearly than I have! We had a great conversation anyway and I couldn’t think of a better person to watch a game with. Secondly, the celebration! Wow what a reaction from everyone, hugs and kisses all round, it was absolutely brilliant! It really reminded me why I loved football, not the shouting and moaning and disappointments, but for the sheer joy of seeing a ball breaking the net!
So, my first time was truly memorable and very good fun, and my only regret is not finding more time to help out at The Yellow Submarine. I think that’s my new year resolution sorted.
[the gang at the game, I was behind the camera!]
- Volunteers at Monday Night Club
I'm in love, I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it! I love volunteering at The Yellow Submarine!
I would volunteer at Monday Night Club every night if they had one (although I suppose they would have to re-name it). You could not find a more welcoming group of people to spend some time with. The other volunteers, staff and young adults were so much fun to be around. I didn’t feel like I was volunteering as much as hanging out with a group of friends. I couldn’t sleep that night from all the excitement and anticipation of next week.Although I am very outgoing, social and loud (my mum still reminds me to use my indoor voice) I do tend to take some time to get to that comfort level when I am around new people, yet I was dancing around the room within an hour of being there! It is a really great mix of people so you will have a great time and enjoy volunteering whether you are crazy and outgoing or more mellow and laid back since there are people who fit into any and all categories there. Is it volunteering if I left benefiting from it?
- Student Placement
I started my volunteering in September 2014 as it is part of my College course to gain an experience from a health and social care environment.
I did not know anything about yellow submarine. I had no idea what kind of place it is and where it is. Until my tutor told me few things about yellow submarine and started to feel really nervous as I have never been to any kind of placement.
I felt really nervous on my first day as I do not know how to communicate with the service user so I was just an observant. But after that, I started to feel really confident as the staff are really supportive and the service users are really fun to be with as well. Doing different activities with them was one of the good memories that I will treasure.
Even though working in a health and social care environment its not for me. I would still recommend to people that one of the best placement to volunteer or work is at Yellow submarine. As a student representative of City of Oxford College, for those people who would be in this placement, you will never regret of becoming part of the Yellow Submarine Family.
- Volunteers on adult residential trips
My reason for volunteering with yellow submarine was to do something useful rather than another evening in the pub and the 9 to 5. My boyfriend was also keen, so I wanted to find something that we could do together.
When I heard YS arranged holidays, it sounded perfect, a really fun way of helping others. Our first time was a late summer holiday to Polzeath in Cornwall, a lovely surfing village staying in a huge house next to the beach with sea views. I was nervous as I didn't have experience of caring for people with learning difficulties, but as soon as I met my group and the other helpers on the trip, I was excited about the week.
My role was basically to make sure everyone was happy, comfortable and having a good holiday, from preparing packed lunches, helping with the smooth running of the day trips (personal highlight was a boat trip to padstow with fish and chips by the sea), getting beat at 10 pin bowling to helping with dinner. Dvd's and quizes in the evenings were such a nice way of getting to know everyone. The whole group got on so well and were all interesting people with great senses of humour, everyone said they wanted to come back the next year and quite a few of us did.
What is it like to volunteer with Yellow Submarine? Fun and surprises!
When I went down to Wytham Woods I got a big surprise. A magical look of sheer wonder on the face of a young man K as he managed to light a fire (a very small one!) by rubbing a flint and a piece of steel together. We were on a bushcraft skills day and K had been trying for about 20 minutes to get a spark going. We then had fun eating sausages and toasting marshmallows. Later we fed pigs and rode in a trailer around the farm. A day of fun.
So come with an open mind and prepare to be surprised!
- Volunteered on an adult residential trip
I volunteered for a Yellow Submarine holiday in 2012. Yellow Submarine had rented a spacious and attractive house just outside Torquay, on the English Riviera. This was the first Yellow Sub holiday I had been on, and I was not sure what to expect. My abiding memory of it is that it was extremely good fun.
Toby had organised a range of activities - a boat trip, a visit to the zoo, bowling, a ride on a sightseeing choo choo train around Torquay, and a balance between eating out and meals cooked at home. I had not met the other volunteers before, but everyone - volunteers and guests alike - got along very well.
Toby and the volunteers brought a wonderful sense of fun to the whole week. Toby's wife and children also came on the trip, and this made for a relaxed and familial atmosphere which the paying guests appeared to enjoy a great deal. My sister was one of the guests, and that was certainly the case with her. She kept talking about Toby's boys for some time afterwards.
The fact that the other volunteers, as well as Toby and Lucy, already knew a number of the guests also contributed to the easygoing atmosphere. There were lots of in-jokes which soon became jokes for the whole group. Guests and volunteers bonded easily.
I have no particular skills that are directly relevant either to this field of work, or to cooking/ housekeeping (which is not something I am proud of), and yet that didn't appear to matter at all. A sense of humour and a willingness to get involved seemed to be the most important qualities for a volunteer.
It was gratifying to see how much the guests enjoyed the week, and it was a pleasure to spend time with some thoroughly likeable and admirable people. I enjoyed it a great deal myself, and I would recommend the experience to anyone.
- Volunteered on young people's day trips
If you have even the faintest of interest in considering volunteering at Yellow Submarine, then I could not recommend doing so strongly enough! I decided to help out with 2 days of activities during half-term for a group of teenagers, a trip to Wytham farm & woods, and another to Windrush leisure centre in Witney. I had no previous experience and was somewhat anxious about whether I'd be able to meet any expectation Yellow Submarine had of me, I soon realised that just getting stuck in where necessary is the main essence of what is required, it is not an exact science! What is involved? Generally being there for the youngsters in a supporting role and being aware that from time to time they will need your help, talking with them for reassurance, ensuring that you are there when they face a challenge, for example, holding their hand whilst walking through the woods in case they are unable to do that on their own or encouraging an individual to get involved in an activity if they seem to be reluctant, ultimately the more you put into the day the more the youngsters get out of it and go back home tired and having had a day to remember, this is what you're able to give to them, for free!
It was a hugely rewarding experience for me, meeting a group of teenagers who despite any disabilities, are full of character, are individuals who have a bundle of energy and very much hold clear personalities like any one else, they enjoy you being there for them and will give you great memories to take away and most likely some challenges along the way. Yellow Submarine were also very welcoming and I was helped by the other volunteers and staff to feel a part of the day and with anything I was unsure about. Get involved if you have the chance, don't miss it!
I originally wanted to volunteer with Yellow Submarine because it sounded like the ideal volunteering placement (make sure everyone has fun), and it was totally different to anything I’ve done before. Everyone made me feel so welcome and unlike my other volunteering placements, it felt like I mattered not only to the staff, parents and other volunteers, but to all the kids involved.
The nerves kicked in before my first day, the usual worries of what if I say the wrong thing? What if I forget someone’s name? Or just what if no one likes me? I can now look back and realise how silly all of these thoughts were. All involved are out to enjoy themselves and have a good time and all the children and young adults give off such infectious warmth that it is virtually impossible not to enjoy yourself! I’m sure I did forget people’s names and said the wrong thing once or twice but I can honestly say that no one makes you feel embarrassed for it and within two seconds everyone’s moved on to one of the more exciting activities.
I was fortunate enough to go on multiple day trips with Yellow Submarine which meant that I built up a relationship with a large number of the kids on those trips and found myself genuinely looking forward to seeing people who I’d only ever met once or twice before. Its remarkable how quickly everyone makes you feel integrated and part of the group and I was genuinely sad when it came to my last day.
I would definitely recommend volunteering with Yellow Submarine as not only is it worthwhile to parents and staff but you’ll end up being part of fun, happy memories for a great group of people!
When a Yellow Submarine staff member (who I'd known as a friend) asked me to help out for the first time, I have to confess that I was a little uncertain.
Not just because it involved giving up some free-time but also because I wasn’t certain that I would have the skills to really help out. But I’m so very glad that I put those thoughts to the back of my mind and went along with Toby and the team to see Oxford United play at home. It was a brilliant game, but even better experience – not just for the group that we were with that day, but also for me. From getting to know everyone over a quick bite before the game, through to celebrating the goals and just talking on the minibus, it was a brilliant day out.
If you’re in any doubt, don’t be – you will not regret it.
- Volunteer on our young people's activities
Although both of my siblings have additional needs it was still daunting going in to an environment where there were children with needs that I haven't experienced before, although when the day arrived I needn't of worried!
The young people who use the yellow submarines services are the most caring, impressionable,receptive people I have ever met and will welcome you in as if they have known you their entire life.
And if that wasn't enough you get to see them grow up to be amazing human beings.
My first time volunteering was nerve racking, but I knew the reason why I wanted to help Yellow Submarine and that's because it is a charity that appealed to me. I had never had real experience working with people who have disabilities, so I was not aware of what to expect; however, I realised that I wanted to know more about people who have disabilities and what I can do to make their (and their parents) life easier because no one should have to struggle alone.
With this in mind I started on a Thursday at the leisure centre where a sports activity day is run, this was the day I felt I could be at ease and just help people exercise, being a sporty guy, I soon fitted in and was meeting everyone and introducing myself. Within in half an hour a football match started up and everyone was joining in, working together as a team. Once the football had drawn to an end we visited the Gym (which everyone loved) and then on to swimming followed by lunch and a trip to the dance studio.
You may think that it is difficult to embrace new things or work with people who have disabilities because you don't know how to approach them. I can say that it is easier than you think... no one wants to be treated differently to anyone else, if you treat people with the say attitude and politeness as you would want to be treated with then you should face a problem. sometimes you will be required to give someone a little more of your time or attention, but this is not a hard task.
I would suggest to anyone who is thinking about volunteering with Yellow Submarine to do so! you wont regret it, I never have and that's why I continue to volunteer on the sports days and have even raised money for the charity. It is a really amazing charity and you shouldn't feel anxious of whether to volunteer or not.
I hope to see you on the Thursday activity days!!
My first volunteering experience with Yellow Submarine was during the school summer holidays 2014, on a day trip to Oxford. I was a little apprehensive at first as I did not know any of the staff or young people, but I had no need to worry as I was soon met by lots of friendly, smiley faces in Oxford, all excited and ready for the adventures ahead! The staff were extremely welcoming and made me feel part of the team straight away, and the young people that were on the trip were all so friendly and confident considering I had never met them before. The weather was gorgeous and our day included a pizza picnic in the park and a trip to the Story Museum and Natural History Museum- what more could you ask for!
I have been lucky enough to volunteer on trips to Drayton Manor theme park and Cadbury's World - all of which ran incredibly smoothly, were great fun and a fantastic opportunity to meet and work with new people.
I am looking forward to working with all the staff and young people at Yellow submarine this year - I can't wait to find out what exciting trips are in store! If I was to give any advice to anyone thinking about volunteering for Yellow submarine, it would be to give it a go because you will never have a dull moment, and the people you are there to support are fantastic individuals who without the help of charities such as Yellow Submarine, perhaps wouldn't be able to experience some of these opportunities otherwise. It's incredibly rewarding - give it a go!
I volunteered in early 2013 initially to help with the painting and cleaning of the new Yellow Submarine cafe on Park end St. This was very enjoyable with everyone mucking in and not worrying about getting their hands dirty!
When the cafe opened Toby introduced a trainee programme for young people with learning difficulties and I volunteered to help with this training. I was initially worried about whether or not my lessons would interest the young people but I need not have worried they were all enthusiastic and enjoyed the course immensely.
I was privileged to see the students gaining in confidence and many of them enjoyed working in the cafe and interacting with customers. It is lovely to see many of them working in an apprenticeship scheme in the cafe and dealing professionally with customer requests.
I would highly recommend volunteering at the Yellow Submarine.
I was a little nervous before my first time volunteering with Yellow Submarine especially as I am quite shy when I meet new people. However, the staff and clients were so incredibly friendly and fun that the feeling very quickly evaporated.
It was extremely rewarding working with such lovely people and I have gone on to volunteer for several different Yellow Submarine occasions (going to Brighton, Dorset and the Isle of Wight on residential holidays with older clients, and going to the pantomine and cinema with younger clients as well as assisting at the Monday evening club).
It's a fantastic organisation and I would urge anyone who loves working with friendly people and trying new experiences to join Yellow Submarine. I am looking forward to the fun events ahead!
The first time I volunteered with Yellow Submarine i did not know what to expect!
Of course I knew I would be one of the 'responsible adults' but I wondered what might be expected of me and whether I would know what to do.
Then I thought, well how would I want to be treated if I knew someone was coming along to the theatre to help me have a good time and keep me safe? Then it was easy! I made lots of friends and loved being with so many excited young people.
What a privilege it was! An experience to be repeated, for sure!
Five weeks solid of Yellow Submarine work was my first experience and it honestly went by so quickly - every day was different and it was impossible to be bored! I was very nervous before going on a whole week residential with two teenage groups and was especially unsure if I was really able to be helpful and cope with anything that might come up. Within 10 minutes of being on the bus we were all singing our way down the motorway as loud as we possibly could! Everyone was so immediately warm and friendly - young people and staff alike - that I felt completely at home and comfortable and that feeling has stayed over the year and half I've known Yellow Submarine.
I was also worried about getting my head around my responsibilities, but the person leading a session was always so clear and helpful and I always felt able to say I would rather not do something, swimming for example (I never have learned to swim properly...!). With such close groups and with the same young people coming regularly to sessions, I quickly felt like I was a regular part of the group and still do.
When I was getting on the bus for the first time to go on the residential I felt weirdly like one of the teenagers, going away and all nervous about making friends and I think that is one of the great things - as a volunteer you get to join in too. Yes, I will happily spend a few hours playing games; yep, going to the cinema and bowling is not too bad either.
I love how laid back and open Yellow Submarine is and I really hope I can keep working with them for a long time to come.
- Holiday Volunteer
Having helped out on several Yellow Submarine holidays over the past couple of years, its hard to think back and remember exactly what the first one was like, but as I've come back several times to help out on more, I can say with certainty that I've loved every minute of every one.
Like everyone, I think going into a new situation with a group of people you've never met before can give you a bit of apprehension, but for me that disappeared after a few minutes, and from then on it was non-stop fun all the way to Teignmouth! Half way through that first trip I volunteered on, I got a phone call from head office asking if I could help out on the next holiday a few weeks later, it only took a couple of seconds to say "Yes, of course, I'd love to".
It’s like going away on a big fun family holiday, everyone is in great spirits and the atmosphere is lively. With the fantastic YS staff team, and hard work of the leaders on the holidays, as a volunteer you can concentrate on the holiday-makers and helping and enabling them to have the best holiday ever.
The fun part is that everyone loves to join in and try new things, its a real adventure and voyage of discovery and learning, with both holiday-makers and volunteers enjoying making new friends and discovering new activities together, whether it's seeing dolphins swimming alongside the boat, joining hundreds of people doing laughing yoga, being part of a bonfire night torchlight parade, or just simply all helping out with cooking a meal....
Any apprehensions you may have had beforehand will disappear so quickly and seem so irrelevant that you will wonder why you ever had any! As a volunteer on a Yellow Submarine holiday you are guaranteed to have an extremely rewarding, and most of all, fun-filled time, that will leave you planning ahead for the next one.
I started volunteering with Yellow Submarine through an internship opportunity at my university. I had spent the best part of my time at university involved in various volunteering projects, so I was really looking forward to starting out with Yellow Sub.
My first day at the charity, I was asked to spend time in the cafe and get to meet the interns there. I was quite nervous, not so much about interacting with the interns but because I had never worked in a cafe before.
The experience turned out to be amazing. The interns were given a lot of responsibility and ended up explaining all about the job to me. I never felt like they needed my supervision to work, it was about supporting each other as colleagues. Their enthusiasm and pride in what they were doing was incredible to see. Their interactions with customers was inspiring, they always had a smile for everyone. I can not begin to count the times I heard them say they loved their job!
- Volunteers with us on a tier 5 charity visa
I started volunteering with Yellow Submarine in the early days of the charity. It has now grown so fast to having full time staff, an office and even a cafe. I couldn't be any prouder to volunteer with such a charity.
Being new in the UK, I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me to find out what's it like working with a UK charity with people with learning disabilities in comparison with the charities in Singapore. Plus I wanted to travel around England. What more could you ask for! The only thing that was unexpected was getting to stay in beautiful cottages in the country, staying by the beach in houses that look like a palace!
I was very impressed with the opportunities given to the members. Each of them were treated with respect and dignity. Staff provided them with so much independence, opportunities, choices and confidence that they could learn and partake at home.
Volunteering was a learning curve for me and changed my perspective at how people participate in their wider community. I can't thank Yellow Submarine enough for these memorable opportunities.
Volunteers at Monday Night Club
I am new to volunteering and I had no idea what I would be letting myself in for when I climbed those stairs a few weeks ago (I was absolutely terrified if I am completely honest)! I have been pleasantly surprised each week and I am sure, will continue to be so
The enthusiasm and energy in those rooms (or the pool) is amazing and completely contagious. I leave work wondering if I have enough energy to get through a Monday evening but after walking into an atmosphere where someone is so genuinely pleased to see you and as I mentioned before, is so FULL of energy, I leave Yellow Sub absolutely buzzing and rejuvenated. It takes me hours to get to sleep on Monday evening! And then on Tuesday mornings my poor colleagues have to listen to me gushing with enthusiasm about my evening and the amazing time I’ve had. In at nutshell, for me attending MNC, really is a happy pill and I am so glad I made the decision to apply to volunteer.
I don’t know what I was expecting but I certainly did not expect to get what I do out of these evenings. So thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.
- Volunteered as a summer intern
Volunteering for Yellow Submarine has been a fun and mind-opening experience!
I originally signed up to volunteer with Yellow Submarine because I wanted to gain some experience for my CV and I thought it would also be a fantastic occasion to meet all types of new people.
The first time I volunteered was at an activity day which involved taking a merry bunch of children to the Pitt Rivers Museum in the morning, to the nearby park for lunch, and to the Story Museum in the afternoon.
Truth be told, although I was very excited about the activity day, I also felt a little bit nervous: despite often hearing people talking about “learning disabilities” around me, I actually had no idea about what a “learning disability” actually was or indeed what it implied for someone to have a “learning disability”. I had very little experience of working with children so I also felt slightly apprehensive about making sure that they were safe whilst having a great time.
As it turns out, there was no reason to be nervous, and plenty of reasons to be excited! The day before the activity I got an email containing all the information I might have needed which was very reassuring, and on the actual day the staff and other volunteers were just so good at answering my questions and making sure I felt confortable J
By the end of the day I found that I was significantly more confident in engaging with the children than at the start and it was so rewarding to see that they are having such a brilliant time! I think the highlight of the day for everyone was the massive dressing-up session we had at the Story Museum – there’s nothing more fun than walking around with a ridiculous hat on your head whilst everyone else is dressed in equally goofy outfits!
I have since then gone to many more activity days and they’ve all been just as fun: I am constantly meeting new people, both members of staff and participants in the activities, who are very nice and great fun. I have learnt a lot from them and am hoping to learn much more in the future!
- Volunteers on residentials and trips
Having taken part in a number of activity days with Yellow Submarine since 2009 I can honestly say that any apprehension I may have had about volunteering quickly disappeared.
Although I’m quite a loud person, I can often feel uncomfortable when meeting new people, and I was worried that I wouldn’t have much in common with everyone else on the holiday. I was nervous that I might say or do the wrong thing, but it was soon obvious that I was worrying unnecessarily. From my first trip to see QPR play (and lose, sorry Toby…), to a number of subsequent holidays and activities, I have had a brilliant time throughout. The Yellow Submarine staff are really experienced and are always on hand if you have any questions, and it was great to see some familiar faces on later trips. Guests and volunteers both get a huge amount out of the holiday, and it’s really interesting to learn about everyone’s lives and hobbies.
There’s a real sense of camaraderie on the holidays, both the volunteers and guests are getting the opportunity to try new things and meet new people. Without the help of Yellow Submarine, I would never have been brave enough to sing karaoke in front of a crowd (although I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing)!
I would whole heartedly recommend volunteering with Yellow Submarine, I’m yet to meet someone who didn’t enjoy it and the number of regular volunteers is testament to the brilliant work the team undertakes!
- Volunteered on an adult residential trip
I had a fantastic time volunteering with Yellow Submarine. It was a privilege to go away on holiday with such an enthusiastic and fun group. The most rewarding aspects were getting to know the different personalities and seeing the group bond and grow in confidence as they launched themselves into new and different experiences. I have really fond memories of the characters I met, and our time in and around Windsor.
I think I was a little nervous at first – worried about getting it wrong, coming over as patronising, or not being fully able to appreciate the particular needs of the holidaymakers. But the Yellow Submarine charity – and group leader Toby especially – were excellent; they were really professional in the support that they gave and explained clearly what my role would be. So I felt reassured and able to relax, which makes for a better experience for everyone involved.
Something I hadn’t expected was quite how much I would learn from other people about the rewards of diversity, and that’s something that has helped me in my professional life too.
Since the first holiday, I’ve been back again with Yellow Submarine. I would recommend volunteering to anyone. You give a little bit of time but get back so much more!
- Volunteers as a yoga teacher
6 hours ago I was sat on a bench in some leafy suburb of Oxford. It was gorgeous sunshine, but I was pretty aprehensive. How was I going to teach these teens with learning difficulties and autism. How should I pitch the class??? Help!
My experience with learning difficulties is very minimal and I have to say until today quite negative. My Grandma would have an annual party at hers and a friend of hers would bring her boy with learning difficulties who was young enough to play with my sister and I but as he got to be older he would chase us around the house and in our child like way we got spooked. The whole situation reminded me a lot of my grandparents actually, a leafy red bricked suburb, a school (my Grandma taught), it was autumn, somehow we always went there in autumn. Even the dragon motif on the school brought her back- my Grandma embraced the Welsh dragon of my Grandfather’s country and loved it as an emblem. Her (or her friend) would collect dragon ornaments.
So memories were flooding in and I had no idea what to expect from these teens.
What pace should I go at?
Music.... yes or no?
Distraction or sensory stimulation?
Full Up dog or Cobra?
Quick talk or slow?
Interaction or not?
Adjustments or demo?
How the hell do you pitch for Autism at the same time too?
I perceived Autism to be about high functioning mathematic genius kids with emotional detachment. Not learning difficulties. This was going to be a weird class to go midway between that. However Anna very quickly put me at my ease and educated me!
I met her outside the class, she introduced me to all the teens who were eating lunch, and as soon as I’d met them, shook hands and they chatted to me- I knew it was going to be ok!
Anna and I set up the room when she explained how the parents are going to love us doing this (we will chill the teens out!)..... why she was in youth work (she ran retirement homes and found it too bureaucratic)..... why Yellow Submarine was founded (Rob had an uncle with learning difficulties and took him and his uncle's mates on holiday- and it went from there!)...... how Dragon school were really generous and gave Yellow Submarine run of the school during half term. And she told me a few of the EPIC activities they had been doing. Seriously imaginative and fun. Such as making jelly brains for Halloween, karate, rounders, swimming…yoga.
I was so pleased to be able to sit and play and chat with them before the class because it helped me with my empathy. I like to know where my student's heads are at before I go and teach or present or meet people!
My class that I had designed was very colourful and imaginative, and I was worried teenagers just wouldn’t like it and may feel patronised. But these teens were joyous and playful and kind to me so I knew it was just the ticket.
We went into the yoga room. And except two teens (one who just wasn’t feeling it, the other who was enjoying giggling at me instead!) everyone seemed to love yoga. Sun salutaions turned into ‘waving at the sun’ and we made the sun come out brighter! The leaves I’d picked up from the street to hold during Tree pose went down particularly well, especially with Will who you can see in the photo with the leaves and some bigger and better ones he found afterwards. It even drew one of the chaps who didn’t fancy it into the group. Warrior poses were also well received (well they are teenage boys after all!) some menacing warrior faces, humble warrior when they saw a princess or a king they appreciated, warrior two with bow and arrow and peaceful warrior when they’d killed the dragon! Cobra with hisses too.
They didn’t like child’s pose but that was because I blundered and said you’ll look like a child in it- durgh! Teenagers are NOT going to want to look like a child! We moved on quickly from that.
I got on with Sean (that’s an Irish name I was informed) who had a penchant for cricket and a knowledge of countries. (Namaste – that’s Indian! he declared!) but all of the teens were a wonderful intriguing group of people and I’m pleased I met them.
So I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am invited back for more classes. Which I will do in a heartbeat. Yellow Submarine are really giving these teens such an awesome half term. And I particularly love their passionate aim that Adults with Learning Difficulties should be treated exactly the same as everyone else. Thus their scholarships into catering, employment in their café and help with CV writing to land jobs.
It was really moving. Yes I cried on the way home! I had to listen to Radio 4’s gardeners hour to settle myself (strange innocent lives gardeners have very distracting and alien to the lives of those teens!)
[Find out more about Anne's yoga at: www.yogaquota.com]
- Volunteers on our adult residentials
So far I have been on two holidays, one to Blackpool and one to the Isle of Wight. Both have been great fun. Although I was nervous before I started as I wasn’t sure what to expect, as soon as I got onto the minibus on the first day and met the staff and my first holiday-makers, I soon felt at ease. There is a really friendly and excited atmosphere, with everyone looking forward to the week ahead.
Whilst on the holidays everybody stayed in one big house. In Blackpool we were on a small farm and in the Isle of Wight we stayed in a national trust property by the sea. Both had their own kitchens and living rooms and were very comfortable.
Whilst away, it was important that the holiday makers had the holiday that they wanted, and not the one we wanted for them, meaning which activities we did was up to them. Most nights we all had a chat after dinner about what everybody would like to do the next day and made sure everyone was happy with the plan. This might mean that the group split up some days to do different activities. Some popular activities on the trips I went on were going to the zoo, a castle, Madame Tussaudes, a football stadium, going on a steam train or a boat ride or even just doing some shopping or having a trip to the pub. It really is lovely to see how much everybody enjoys themselves and I have to say I enjoy most of the activities myself too.
The element of choice was important for what we ate on the holiday as well. The holiday-makers decided themselves what meals they wanted to eat and we all went to the supermarket together at the start of the holiday to get the weeks food. We tried to get the holiday-makers to cook the meals themselves too, with a little help from us. Some were very capable in the kitchen, others were novices, but everyone had a good time helping and felt a sense of achievement for a job well done.
I had a really good time on my holidays, and genuinely enjoyed meeting both staff and holiday-makers alike. But that’s not to say it wasn’t tiring. Your attention is in demand pretty much all day every day, so your enthusiasm has to have stamina, especially when some people enjoy telling you the same jokes or stories quite a lot. You also need to be patient, sometimes someone won’t understand why they can’t do something they want to do straight away, or two of the holiday makers might not get on too well, or someone might just be tired or hungry and therefore just be a bit grumpy. However, if you keep positive and upbeat, most problems will tend to resolve themselves with a bit of encouragement, and just in case there’s something you think you can’t handle, there is always a staff member nearby to ask for help.
Volunteering with Yellow Sub really is a fun and rewarding way to spend a week and I would definitely recommend it. I’ve already signed up to my next holiday!
- Volunteers with us on a year long "tier 5 visa"
I'd talked about volunteering for years. I even gave up a few days here 'n' there. But that was part of the problem: my framing, however subtle or unconscious, was about losing.
And then everything changed.
I wanted to stay abroad, to stay in the UK, and volunteering -- being sponsored to volunteer -- was my best option. Filtering the list of licensed sponsors based on a reasonable commute left me with a few dozen options, from which Yellow Submarine quickly stood out. It just sounded fun. I wanted to know more.
I didn't know what to expect -- I had no experience with social care, or people with learning disabilities. From the first moment I contacted them, the staff and other volunteers have been so warm and welcoming.
It's hard to exaggerate the effect this experience has had on me. I really do look at the world differently now. These people I've met... the relationships they have with each other are so kind; so tender. Not all, of course, but most (by far), are courteous at the very least. And that's true of all the dealings I've had with the holidayers, without exception.
It's hard to credit -- or it was for me; and it isn't like I'm a cynical person by any stretch -- but I guess the simplest way to put it is that all the folks I've met -- and that's three groups now, not to mention the others I've met on days out -- approach others with a respect you don't often see these days. And I don't mean awe, or with a sense of inferiority; just with an appreciation of others' time. There's a gratitude in their exchanges that, frankly, I find so uplifting. You're just happy to know them. When the bus dropped me off after the Blackpool holiday, M. said, "Oh, John, I really going to miss you." It's a moment that still leaves me with a lump in my throat, in the best possible sense.
And then there's the pride that comes with volunteering for an organization like Yellow Submarine. The staff and volunteers I've met bring so much to the job. In my career, I've been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented people, but there's something special about seeing those sorts of people apply their talents and energies in a pursuit that so obviously helps individuals and their families, day in, day out. It's truly inspiring, in a way that I can't say I ever really understood before now.
Incidentally, Yellow Submarine has just published a report based on a recent survey of affected parents, in the light of Oxfordshire County Council's warning that significant cuts to children's disability services are planned for late 2014/2015. To read some of the feedback in the appendices is to understand how much the holidays I help out on (as an example) mean to these people and their families.
I think I'll end this post with a few holiday highlights (thus far, and in no particular order):
- Seeing M. and M.'s faces as we walked out beside the pitch at Anfield, during our tour. This was quickly followed by excited, simultaneous jumping up and down and hugging, repeating "I can't believe we're here!" over and over. To play even the smallest role in bringing that sort of unbridled joy into someone's life is such a pleasure and privilege. A grin splits my face every time I think about it -- or write about it, apparently. 🙂
- Hearing J. say that he didn't want to go home (at the end of the Dorset holiday), after having had a bit of a rough start, with many calls home. That excitement and those smiles were so rewarding.
- At Sea Life in Weymouth, having a lady stop me and, smiling widely, ask, "Is he always like that?" as G. shouted boisterous and heartfelt wishes from the sidelines to fellow Yellow Submarine holidayers and staff boarding a ride. He's amazing; so happy and selfless -- and I was grinning ear-to-ear as I relayed as much to her.