Emily first attended the Community Cafe in Sherburn in Elmet in April 2013. She has cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia, as well as mild learning difficulties. She was referred to us by NYCC’s Health & Adult Services Learning Disabilities Team.
She had just moved into her own property and was lonely and socially isolated. Her confidence was also low as a result of being bullied in the past. She has always been a private person and is uncomfortable with others until used to them.
Emily began regularly attending the Community Cafe with the support of her carers, and now calls it her favourite part of the week. Emily is always keen to help and has now been enrolled as a volunteer. She was attracted to volunteering as she says that it is ‘good to have the opportunity to know that I am helping others’.
She gets involved in office admin activities such as laminating, stapling documents, and adding attendees to the spreadsheet on the laptop. Emily is a popular member of the group, and everyone makes an effort to involve her in all the activities. She says that the cafes have a comfortable atmosphere as everyone helps each other, they are all good friends and have a laugh. The visitors compliment Emily for her help. She says it is nice to be recognised for and be appreciated as a volunteer. This is something that previously she struggled with accepting because of her low levels of confidence.
Emily asked our Community Development Worker, Paul Halmshaw, if he knew of any other local activities she could participate in. She now attends Art Club on a Thursday and attends the Keyring Self Advocacy group held at Selby. Paul supports Emily in her volunteer position. She says of Paul that he is ‘a fantastic help and always there to talk’.
Emily volunteers at four Community Cafes at Sherburn, Hambleton, Selby and Tadcaster. She receives regular visits from three other attendees and volunteers from the Community Cafes and attends various events through one of our partners: Trio Supported Holidays, who provide affordable transport. Marion, one of our volunteers, visits Emily regularly and they go out together on social excursions, including a shopping trip to York. Emily went on her first holiday in years this summer, she spent a week in Jersey provided by one of our partnership workers.
Emily continues to enjoy volunteering at the community cafes and has come a long way. Her first day at Sherburn she felt ‘a wreck’ with no confidence. Now though, she is glad that her social worker encouraged her to come as she says ‘volunteering at the cafe is the best thing I have ever done. I don’t know what I’d do without the cafe’. Through volunteering, Emily is no longer socially isolated and her confidence is steadily improving.