Meet Greta: social care student and volunteering mega-fan
We met up with Greta to hear about her experience volunteering in one of our local communities. She’s a social care student, a passionate volunteer and her smile never disappears when she’s chatting about helping the community.
How Greta came to be our volunteer
At the end of last year Greta applied to be a Befriender. Greta studied social care in Albania, where she grew up, but hadn’t done much practical work there. She’s studying health and social care at the moment and found out about the work we do through a classmate who had volunteered with us.
She wanted to get out of the house and learn more about social care so she applied to be a Befriender. A few months later, in August, we worked with her to befriend one of our older residents called Mary.
Greta comes to Mary’s home once a week for two to three hours. Mary lives with her daughter but doesn’t leave the house much. Greta explained that Mary often feels quite lonely and doesn’t have much contact with people, other than her support worker and nurses who visit. Mary’s daughter told Greta that Mary doesn’t take a liking to many people, but from the word go they were laughing and have got on really well ever since.
Greta’s been involved in a whole range of volunteering activities with us, from cooking food for homeless people at St Mary’s Methodist church, helping run a fundraising stall at Basil Jellicoe Hall, spending time with local older people during a postcard-writing session for our We Are Ageing Better programme and helping out with one of our resident surveys.
Outside of Origin, Greta volunteers with a charity called Hestia, which supports people with a variety of different needs.
Why Greta’s interested in social care
Greta explained that in Albania there’s not as much support from the government or from organisations for people who need it. In fact, thinking back to when she was growing up in her village, Greta reflected that people didn’t understand what she meant when she said she was studying social care and that it wasn’t until 1998 that jobs in this field first existed.
So when asked why she decided to study social care, she said
For a healthy community, it’s important that we help each other.
Why Greta thinks volunteering is important
She enjoys volunteering because helping others makes her feel good in herself. Like anyone, sometimes she has difficult times, so she thinks it’s really important to offer support to others in need because we have the power to change people’s lives and empower them.
For her career, volunteering has done wonders! She’s improved her communication skills, is more confident now, and has learnt more about social care as a profession.
We asked Greta what advice she would give to someone thinking about doing some volunteering:
You should give up your time as much as you can to make change in people’s lives. Spending time, even if you’re not able to help as such, is valuable because it’s giving someone some company. You can encourage the person you’re befriending too.
What’s next for Greta
For now Greta’s carrying on being Mary’s Befriender and will finish her studies in June 2018. She’s going to continue her career in social care, ideally working in a job supporting women.
We’d like to say a big thank you to Greta, and all our other volunteers, for giving up their time to make such a big difference to the lives of our residents and service users! To find out more about our volunteering opportunities, visit our Volunteering page.