Dennis talks about his volunteering journey and his advice for anyone thinking about getting a voluntary job.

Dennis at Inspire Community Cafe.

At Options, our vision for the future is ‘a better world where people with disabilities contribute as unique and valued members of dynamic and inclusive communities’. In line with our vision, we believe that people with learning disabilities should have the same chance to contribute to their communities through voluntary or paid employment as everybody else.

Recently, our Inclusion Coordinator Clara met up with Dennis (who is supported by Options) to hear all about his volunteering journey. Clara sat down with Dennis at the Inspire Community Cafe in Wallasey – where Dennis volunteers – for a cup of tea and chat. Here’s what Clara asked Dennis:

When did you start volunteering?

I was one of the first volunteers to work at the Inspire Community Cafe, and have been here for around 4 years.

What does your role involve?

The first thing I do at the beginning of a shift is to make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated. I then make sure the cafe is clean and the washing up is done. At the end of the day, I help to wash the coffee machine to make sure it’s ready for the next day. I also help to look after a vegetable patch outside of the cafe.

During lockdown, me and my colleagues made up hundreds of meals for the local community, for people who needed them the most. This made me feel really proud, giving back to my community is very important to me.

How did you find out about the cafe and the voluntary job?

I think I heard about the cafe through one of my support staff, and then visited to see what I thought. After having a lot of different jobs in the past, I had a lot of experience and understood what would be expected of me in my voluntary role. I fitted right in and love working at the cafe!

What skills have you gained from volunteering at the cafe?

Volunteering has improved my confidence and my independence. I really enjoy chatting with regular and new customers. Some people really appreciate having a good conversation with me, because they don’t get to see a lot of people outside of the cafe. I have great relationships with the other people who work at the cafe.

What advice would you give somebody who’s thinking about getting a voluntary job?

My advice to people is to just get out there and try lots of different things until you figure out what you enjoy. Another top tip is to always go and see what a place is like before deciding if you want to volunteer there.

Dennis contributes to the cafe and his local community in many ways and is a valued member of the Inspire team. We want to say a huge thank you to Dennis for taking the time to sit down with us. We hope this story inspires others and shows how contributing to our communities can create an enormous sense of well-being – both for ourselves and for others around us!