Headway Milton Keynes: Lockdown Life, Part 2
When I penned my first blog on what it was like to volunteer back at the start of the pandemic, I had no idea that almost a year on we would still be facing Zoom meetings, face coverings and lots of other restrictions.
However, as I reflect on the last year, I realise that it has not all been doom and gloom!
I’ve been able to work as a brain injury solicitor from home. I’ve also been lucky that my friends and family have all enjoyed relatively good health and I’ve been able to get to know my neighbours and community more than I ever would have done.
But one of the things that has really kept me going during this time, helping me to feel positive even on the most difficult days has been my volunteer work with Headway Milton Keynes.
Almost a year on, my volunteer work is strong.
In my first blog, I talked about my experiences with holding weekly befriending calls. Since then, the Milton Keynes branch has moved their group sessions online and I have had the opportunity to take part in their cognitive sessions.
These sessions are dedicated to developing members’ cognitive skills through small group activities, covering memory, number and word activities. Some of these processes can sadly be affected by brain injury and the activities can help the brain to re-learn some of these skills.
The members really seemed to enjoy the cognitive sessions (although the Maths sessions were probably the least popular. But then, does anyone really enjoy Maths?)
We also played games at the end of the sessions for some downtime. My favourite highlight of the session had to be listening to a fantastic radio show created by one of the Headway members, who performed covers to popular songs with ingenious lyrical twists. Sheer talent! It is now a regular feature of the sessions and met with delight by all.
Headway re-opened their doors for a short period to welcome back clients for face-to-face sessions. Sadly, they then had to stop their physical offering with the rising infections and rule changes. I had been lucky enough to attend just a few sessions during their reopening.
Since then, I have gone back to weekly befriending calls. My Headway friends are all very different and Wednesday afternoons when I speak to them are a real highlight of my week. We talk about everything from the weather, to politics in the US, books and even Netflix recommendations. I have also developed a weekly quiz challenge where we go head to head on quiz rounds, keeping a tally of who scores the most points (I regret to add that the scores have been 3 – 0 against me).
The pandemic has created a sort of anxiety in all of us – worries about how our friends are, who we can see and whether we’re safe to go outside. What has struck me in all of this is the incredible resilience of our Headway members. If suffering a brain injury isn’t enough, they have the isolation caused by the pandemic to deal with. Yet they are unfailingly cheerful, supportive to each other and determined. It’s an understatement to say that they are truly inspiring.
Over the past year, I have felt a genuine connection with the members, staff and other volunteers. They are truly a great bunch and my involvement with them has helped me personally to get through this time.
I’m looking forward to see what the next few months will bring. Here’s hoping I can write the third instalment with my experiences of volunteering in person!