Anne Rowan talks about her experience of volunteering with us.
I was an engineer with BT - one of the first female engineers in Northern Ireland - but was medically retired after suffering from ME. I am married and have two boys who still live at home. I cannot commit to full time employment but needed to have some structure in my life. Volunteering suits me as I choose how much time and effort I am able to give.
How and why I got involved with the Stroke Association
My dad died of a stroke seven years ago which was a great shock as there was no history of strokes in the family. I have volunteered for other charities but felt I had a duty to help at the Stroke Association, in memory of my dad. I had known Janice, the volunteer coordinator in Northern Ireland, through a friend and had helped out many years ago. So when a letter arrived in the post asking me to volunteer, I accepted.
What I enjoy about volunteering
The group I volunteer at are a lively lot. They have all been affected in different ways but share a common bond and have become very protective and supportive of each other. There is never a dull moment and hopefully they enjoy meeting up with myself and the other volunteers. I hope we can bring a little bit of joy and happiness into their lives. Through volunteering I have made new friends with the other volunteers and we meet up on a regular basis, dining out and getting involved in other social activities. I find it very rewarding working with the group and get as much out of it as I put in.
How I make a difference
Charities cannot function without volunteers like myself. By giving a few hours a week, it enables the Stroke Association to provide a support group for stroke survivors, helps people to develop their communication skills which may have been affected by their stroke, and meet up with people in the same situation. I also try to raise awareness of stroke with the general public through various fundraising events, such as organising a wine tasting evening or collecting in local supermarkets.
How and why I would encourage other people to get involved
Working with stroke survivors is very rewarding. It helps you appreciate how stroke affects people in different ways and how lives can be changed drastically after stroke. The Stroke Association is a very sociable, enthusiastic, fun loving group. They are very appreciative of those who volunteer, and invite and encourage everyone to participate in all events. They make you feel that you are making a difference.