Hear from some of our volunteers
Our incredible volunteers tell us about their time volunteering with the Stroke Association. Read these inspiring stories from across the UK.
Joanie shares how her family created and run their support group in Welwyn
"I am Chairman of the group, Sarah - my daughter - is vice-chair, and her Dad is treasurer!
Sarah had a stroke at school when she was 18. She has aphasia. After five months in hospital and rehab, she came home and wanted to find a support group. There was nothing in our area of Hertfordshire for younger stroke survivors. So, with the help of our charity, we started our own support group in Welwyn.
We started off meeting in a village hall on Thursdays which meant we could do activities like quizzes and planting pots, but since Sarah has been working full time, we changed to meeting on Saturday in a local Pub. This meant that the group changed a bit, but it offered more opportunities, people can stay afterwards and order lunch, which is good for their confidence and speech.
I had a stroke two years after Sarah but don't have aphasia, I just have a slight weakness in my left arm. I actually had the same heart defect as Sarah (PFO) and ended up having an operation by the same surgeon.
Ten years on, we all enjoy running the group. It's been particularly good during the pandemic because meeting on Zoom felt like meeting friends and it was something we all looked forward to.
Volunteering has given Sarah a lot of confidence and along with years of Speech therapy, she has regained much of her speech although aphasia still affects her reading and writing.
Sarah is working full time and is planning a wedding to her fiancé Stuart next year.
Hear from Linda from Liverpool, 73, a stroke survivor and volunteer.
"I started volunteering with the Stroke Association in 2010. I've always wanted to help those who have suffered the devastating consequences of stroke. I want to show them the way forward, to show them that there is always hope and that recovery is possible. To help them by sharing my own story and show them love and care. I want to help those who have suffered, I want to help them to regain that confidence.
I started in a communications role with the charity and supporting people like me with aphasia. I then took on ambassador activities - sharing my story at police stations, schools and various NHS trusts to raise awareness of stroke and the signs to look out for, before becoming a member of the Liverpool University Stroke Survivors team. I also fundraise and helped to recruit new volunteers.
I was in my thirties when I had my first stroke. But my second stroke shortly after that left me paralysed down one side and unable to walk, talk or write. It was devastating and I was left paralysed down one side of my body. I couldn't tell the time, words and numbers were lost on me and I couldn't pay bills. On the day of my stroke, I had been suffering a headache which wouldn't go away. My arm was weak and when I went to pick my two young children up from school, I couldn't talk properly.
There were no stroke nurses at the time and I was put on to a ward with people who had had operations. The staff had little knowledge of strokes and what to do about them, they were inexperienced and that was not their fault. I had no idea what was happening but I could not wait to get home and hide away from the world.
I've made a good recovery over the last years but in February 2020 I fell down the stairs which caused a bleed on my brain and reignited the damage caused by my stroke. I've since had to have more speech and language therapy and treatment for broken bones and nerve damage, which has prevented me from continuing my volunteering in the same capacity.
The hospital said the fall would make my stroke damage worse as the bleed was almost in the same place as my original strokes. My speech had worsened considerably because of the effects of the fall. The consultant they told me that I have Central Pain Syndrome originating from the site of the brain bleed and Intercostal Neuralgia due to the broken rib healing wrongly and trapping a nerve.
I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone to get involved! Volunteering is the most rewarding and valuable experience of my life, helping other people gave me such a sense of purpose. The survivors I have supported are some of the funniest, bravest and strongest people I have ever met. There is so much fun to be had and so many laughs amongst the tears."
Hear from Rob, 60, from Findern in Derbyshire. Rob is a stroke survivor and a volunteer.
"I had my stroke on Christmas Day in 2015, when I was 53. It left me unable to speak and doctors have me at a 30% chance of survival.
Two weeks later, I regained consciousness and was moved to an acute stroke ward. But I was unable to speak, swallow or move my right side and began intensive therapy to address each of these. Finally, after more than three months in hospital, I was allowed home to continue my rehab but was using a wheelchair for another six months.
Although I was still recovering, I started volunteering at our charity in December 2016. I talk to people with communication difficulties. My own reaction to stroke was there was no one there to help with the details. After the hospital, there are not enough people out there helping with speech after a stroke. No one is there to help with the basic words in sentences like 'and' and 'a'
I'm still making progress with my own recovery. I'm now out of my wheelchair and can drive an adapted car. I also play golf with other stroke survivor friends. I can now go on holidays with my wife, Melanie, and cook amazing meals and walk the dogs too."
Melanie, Rob's wife, adds: "Rob really wants to make a difference. He looks forward to the meetings and catching up. Encouraging conversation, practising walking up and down with people and helping with their reading. All the things that he was supported with in the early days. There is always lots of laughter"
And the couple have this message for anyone wanting to volunteer for our charity:
"Just step through the door and try it. It is so rewarding - these are not stroke victims, they are stroke survivors and conquerors of all ages with stories and adventures to share. You will gain so much for sharing your time and helping people regain skills and confidence."
Hear from Yannis, one of our Here For You Volunteers.
"I am proud to be a volunteer because it's something I never expected to do. I always thought if I was to volunteer for any organisation I would have to have knowledge about what I was doing.
But now, I am a volunteer for the Stroke Association I realise I do have the knowledge, and I feel confident I can communicate with other stroke survivors.
The knowledge and training I have been given make me feel I can pass this on to others.
The most positive thing I get from volunteering is the sense that I have helped the person. One of my callers needed a ramp and with my help they got one. Volunteering is an excellent way of helping people and doing good for others. It helps me to be confident to talk to and listen to other people."