Lauren Shildrick talks about her experience of volunteering with us.

My background

I'm from Middlesbrough and have been studying English and History at Queen's University, Belfast since 2011. I'm 20 now and have just finished my undergraduate degree. I'll be staying in Belfast for another year studying an MA in English Language. I hope to eventually become a speech and language therapist.

How and why I got involved with the Stroke Association

I did some work experience in speech and language therapy in Middlesbrough over the summer of 2013. I really wanted to carry on when I came back to Belfast for university. I found the Stroke Association on the Volunteer NI website and it seemed perfect. I got in touch with Janice, the volunteer coordinator in Northern Ireland, and joined the Lisburn group that supports stroke survivors with communication difficulties. I've loved it ever since.

What I enjoy about volunteering

The people in the Lisburn group are all really interesting and I love talking to them and hearing all their stories. I've really enjoyed getting to know everyone and it's very fulfilling to be able to feel like you're making a difference and helping people out.

How I make a difference

I think I make a difference because I've got to know everyone so well. That means I know how to make sure worksheets cater to everyone. When I create activities with my friend Ellyn we include questions that everyone can answer. Everyone has different interests, from rugby to gardening, and different ways that they prefer to communicate, so it's important to make sure everyone can feel involved.

How and why I would encourage other people to get involved

Get in touch with your local Stroke Association office and see if you can join a communication support service like the one in Lisburn. It's really fufilling work and you will meet some really interesting characters with lots to tell.