In September 2013 I received my college timetable and noticed I had Thursday mornings off- like most teenagers it was very tempting to just stay in bed until 12pm and then pop into college for the afternoon.
I decided that maybe finding something to do that made me get out of bed would make my day more productive, so I talked to my scout leader who told me about the Thursday Club for the elderly with dementia. At first I was a bit apprehensive, I mean, I'd never met anyone with dementia and I had no idea what to expect... but I decided that it would be a good idea to try it out.
I remember turning up with the mindset that everyone with dementia was the same, I thought it was just memory loss, forgetting names and forgetting questions they've asked. I never thought it would be possible to build a rapport with someone with dementia- little did I know it was the complete opposite. With the intention to stay at the club for only one year, I found myself asking my college to amend my timetable to ensure I had Thursday mornings off to attend and help at the club as a volunteer. I found it so rewarding to socialise with those who just wanted someone to talk to, or play a game of dominos to cheer someone up. 3 years later, I am now just about to start Medical School at the University of Leicester.
The experience at Cornwater Club has been one of the most valuable and memorable experiences of my life. I've learnt so much about dementia and how everyone is different and how it IS possible to build a strong rapport with those with dementia. At my University interviews this was one of my most talked about experiences- I have seen the deterioration of some of the individuals, I have noticed how rapid the decline in memory loss can be, I've experienced the loss of someone who I've supported and helped.
I need to thank the Cornwater Club for this experience, and thank the staff, volunteers and members there who made my time so memorable. I recommend it to anyone who has a little bit of spare time and wants to give something back to the community, because honestly I didn't expect to be here 3 years later!