After finishing his studies to become a nurse, Kevin came from the Philippines to volunteer with us at age 23; hoping to extend his knowledge of autism, down syndrome and other disabilities. When he finished volunteering for a year on our main site near Llandovery, Kevin came back to Wales for a second year to volunteer in Victoria House.
What is a typical day in Victoria House?
Here, everybody gets themselves ready on a morning; so we start the day by meeting together at 9:00am for breakfast. When we’ve finished tidying up, everybody will go to work; volunteers will go with the residents to support them in whatever they’re doing such as weaving, gardening or working in the cafe.
We usually eat our lunch in the coffee shop and one of the Victoria House residents will have helped to cook the food, before returning to whatever activity we’re doing that day.
In the afternoon and evening, we’ll go back to the house and everybody will have some chores to complete before we prepare for whatever is happening on an evening. There’s a list of what everybody will do that day, including helping to get supper together.
In the evening, our residents will do what they like and we will support them if they need it. Most evenings we’ll spend together in the home.
What were the challenges when you arrived?
I found it difficult to live so rurally; it could be hard to get wifi and there was no phone signal, which I wasn’t used to. You should also be prepared for long hours if you are coming to volunteer.
Having experienced both settings; how do they differ?
Living on the main site, you get a lot more chance to socialise – not just with the residents, but also with the other volunteers who live there. You get a better chance to get to know other people’s culture and spend time with people from many different places.
Victoria House is in a small town, so there’s easier access to public transport; the bus and the train. It’s easier to get out and about in your free time, or with the residents.
What do you like to do in your free time?
My favourite thing to do is to go out with the other volunteers, to explore the beauty of Wales. You get to learn a lot from talking with the other volunteers; about their culture and their attitudes. My favourite place to visit is Tenby Beach; I’ve been there many times, with many different groups of volunteers.
What do you think you’ve learnt in the past year and a half, volunteering?
Through the work I’ve done with the learners and residents, I’ve developed my self worth and the contentment I feel with myself; it has helped me to become a better version of myself.
What would you say to somebody who is undecided about volunteering?
I am a person who loves to explore new things and volunteering at Elidyr Communities Trust is one of the best decisions I have made. It helped to widen my perspective of life. The experience of having been part of the charity and people’s lives was so rewarding.
Volunteers bring different cultures and experiences to our young people. We thank you for the warmth and friendship you've brought into our children's lives.
The best time for me was when I saw the residents or learners grow in their skills. On one occasion we worked with one young man on brushing his teeth for quite a few months; using different ways to help him to do it more by himself. When he started to do it independently, that was fantastic.