The amazing work of Seachange volunteers

People making bunting at the Activity Club

Activity club just one of the many sessions on offer at Seachange - Credit: Seachange

Sometimes one simple conversation just makes you stop and think.

I thought I was fully aware of the amazing things Seachange, its staff and volunteers got up to. But when I’m not looking they even surprise me. I am not always on the frontline meeting clients and their families. I’m usually to be found hiding away in my office battling with my email inbox.

Feeling the need to touch base I volunteered to transport a lovely guy (I’ll call him John) and his wife to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for a scan. As we drove to Exeter the conversation flowed. John told me about his extensive career in the merchant navy, the teaching he did to train the next generation of naval officers. He explained the places they had lived all over the UK in great detail and with affection. We spoke about the demise of the Exmouth Dock and the effect it must have had on the workers and establishments such as the local pub, The Beach Hotel.

Then John asked, “Where are we going?” It was only then I realised John had Alzheimer’s. A cruel disease that robs the person and their family of many happy memories. It affects not only the memory but the brain as a whole interrupting, behavioural, social and motor skills.

The disease had clearly taken its toll on John and his wife. Yet, they both had great dignity and warmth. I asked how they found out about our community transport service. John explained, with a little help, that he regularly attends our Activity Club. Only on Tuesday, he had been making bunting for the Queen’s Jubilee. He said he really enjoyed the sessions as he got to meet other people and socialise. He said the food cooked was lovely and so was Ally who ran the sessions. It also gives his wife time to spend on herself.

The Activity Club meet every Tuesday and Thursday. They socialise, chat, play games sing and exercise with our nursery children from Jurassic Childcare. Volunteers such as Alison and Faith seem to enjoy the group as much as the clients.

As we continued our journey I explained other sessions we offer that might be able to help John. We host cognitive stimulation therapy run by Active minds and a Memory Café. We also have exercise classes such as ‘better balance’ which would allow John to help stabilise his motor skills and thus fall over less. I also pointed his wife in the direction of Admiral Nurses who are on hand to help family members of those with Alzheimer’s.

One simple car journey and two great people met. What a wonderful way to find out the real way Seachange, its staff and volunteers touch people’s lives.