Amazing volunteering band members

Some of our band members volunteer in their spare time to help in their local community. We thought we’d get to know a couple of volunteers, Lucy and Rob…

Lucy – Administration Officer for Dorset Adult Asperger’s Support

Woman outside by riverI’ve been involved with Dorset Adult Asperger’s Support (DAAS) for several years. I initially joined to meet other autistic people, before volunteering as the Administration Officer about two years ago. DAAS is a community organisation providing information and support. It is run by a small committee of volunteers, the majority of whom are on the autism spectrum.

As with band and many other groups, DAAS had to stop meeting in person once the Covid-19 lockdown began. Many people have experienced lockdown challenges such as sudden change, uncertainty, anxiety and isolation, but these can be particularly difficult for autistic people. So, when band switched to meeting online, I was keen to set up something similar for DAAS. We now offer weekly online typed chats for autistic adults, their families and supporters.

Each week I set a topic and prepare a few questions, then use these to structure the discussion in the chat. In the first half we discuss an autism-related topic, then the second half opens to social chat. Everyone attending brings different experiences and ideas, which means we have some really interesting conversations. Having the opportunity to talk openly about issues related to autism is really valuable, especially during this time of huge change and uncertainty. Those attending also enjoy the social side of the chat room, which helps them to stay connected and speak to different people.

The people attending and their open, honest contributions, are definitely what makes the sessions work so well. We’ve continued the weekly chats long beyond the initial trial month. They’ve been a highlight of my week during lockdown (along with band Zoom of course).

Rob – Library IT Support volunteer

Man sitting on chair in libraryI started volunteering as an IT Support helper a few years ago after seeing a request for volunteers at Fordingbridge Library. I have a background in computing through personal interest and my job over 40 years. Over this period I have seen the use of computers (and more recently portable technology) blossom from computers in large rooms to their integration into everyday life.

I initially helped people using the PCs available in libraries. More recently I help people who have difficulty or problems with their laptops, tablets and smart-phones, covering Windows, Android and IOS systems. The people I see are often elderly who have been given phones or tablets by their children. I also see people whose partners don’t have the patience to teach them. I have helped some people with Universal Credit applications and others with learning difficulties. Unfortunately, it is often the most vulnerable who have been left behind by the technology explosion.

I am a participant in the Dorset-wide Digital Champions (DC) network which aims to help increase the benefits of technology in the community. DC is particularly trying to increase support for those in need of social support and in healthcare, although my interests do not particularly lie in that direction.

What gives me the most satisfaction is using my knowledge to solve the problems and frustrations people have with IT and seeing people make better use of their devices (which I mostly manage to do). I have also learned a lot from the experience.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to be active over the Covid-19 crisis since I generally work in libraries which have been closed. And, the DCs have been stood down for the time being.

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