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Volunteering to help others feel connected and seen

Volunteers Week takes place 1-7 June every year. It's a chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you. Focus Surrey would like to recognise the more than 380 volunteers who have been pivotal to the success of the Saturday club which has been running since September 2016. One of our current volunteers Tinkerbell Lewis has written a blog to explain why she volunteered at Focus Surrey.


"I have had such a precious and wonderful time volunteering at Focus Surrey during the past few months. As a fellow autistic, there has been nothing more heartwarming than to help other children have fun, develop skills, express themselves, and feel connected and seen. This opportunity has been valuable because it has allowed me to develop better social, communicative, and observational skills, as well as help assist in the development of the children. I aspire to become a clinical psychologist one day, specialising in autism and working with neurodivergent individuals. This experience has been beneficial in developing appropriate skills. I decided to volunteer at Focus Surrey because I know how challenging everyday life can be living with autism, and I am deeply grateful that I get to support other children facing similar challenges. Being autistic can feel lonely, especially if communicating with others and expressing your needs is challenging. Thus, volunteering with Focus Surrey has been an honour, as I could extend a hand to help other autistics who feel similar and help them feel connected and seen.



I noticed parts of myself reflected in the children - the frustration that comes with sensory triggers and meltdowns, the communication challenges, and emotional dysregulation, but most importantly, the desire for social belonging and one-to-one attention and support that one may struggle to ask for. This has allowed me to feel deeper empathy because I understand their triggers, helping me to be more attentive to their needs. There seems to be a societal misconception that autistics do not desire social belonging, but that is untrue. Thus, at Focus Surrey, there is the recognition for prioritising the importance of social interaction with one-to-one focused attention to aid in their development. Each child is respected, and their individual needs are carefully considered, allowing for a tailored play session to build on gross motor skills, creativity, and social and communicative skills. The positive and neuro-affirming language is integral to helping children build confidence, try new activities and feel secure in asking for what they want. Several training sessions were held to help inform volunteers on the best approach to creating bonds and security with the children to ensure trust and respect.



Each child is considered unique, and the volunteers and tutors support and sensitively validate their perspectives and needs. The children are given 1-on-1 attention and care, which is beneficial for promoting secure bonds and familiarity. When I work with the children, I feel nothing but compassion and a desire to help them experience nothing but positive regard for simply being themselves. I have seen friendships forge between the children, which is delightful. The staff and team are also fantastic; they have been enthusiastic, energetic, and understanding. It has been a privilege to volunteer with Focus Surrey. I highly recommend volunteering with Focus Surrey; they are a fantastic, compassionate and fun-loving organisation."

If you would like to volunteer at Focus Surrey for its next term in September please email focussurrey@hotmail.com


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