See what our clients and volunteers have to say about their experience of taking part in SCAs projects!
1. A young girl of 10 was referred to us because her mother suffers with sever anxiety and she’d started to exhibit symptoms herself so stood to benefit from spending some quality time with a young person outside of school and family. Two months on from matching her with her Big Sib, we contacted the clients mother who said: “With my daughter being an only child, she loves the chance to chat to a young person about things she is interested in, including teaching her a dance routine and discussing their favourite children’s books. Since [the SCA volunteer] met us, she’s been so warm, down to earth and a good friend to my daughter, which really makes a massive difference”.
2. A little girl of 9 years of age was referred to us by the school. She was living with and caring for her mum who has severe mobility issues and other health conditions which meant that she couldn’t take her to school or take her to other activities. The school organised trips once a month but because this little girl couldn’t get there, she was missing out so they asked for our help. Our volunteer who was matched with her has become part of the family and visits regularly to take her to the school trips as well as many others that they do together. Our volunteer Eliza told us:-
“We have had some lovely times together over the past 1.5 years, including when she came to watch my dance show in February – the first show she had ever been to. I took her backstage to show her the dressing rooms and she even joined in with our warm up! We always have fun when I pick her up from school; we go to the park or go swimming and our favourite activity is going to the top of Castle Mound and watching the sunset. I am staying at Cambridge for a 4th year, so am looking forward to continuing my relationship with her and her mum as they are such a positive and rewarding force in my life and I hope to continue being the same for them.”
1. One Taskforce client is an elderly lady living in a care home in the north of Cambridge. She is paralysed down one side of her body meaning that her mobility and communication are impeded, making her feel socially isolated. We matched her with a 2nd year social science student who was patient and warm with her, taking the time to listen and lip read so they could have flowing conversations together. When the weather is nice, she takes her out for a short walk or sometimes to the local shop. Like many of our Taskforce clients, this lady reported that having a reliable volunteer gave her something to look forward to each week, boosting her mood and well being.
2. Not all Taskforce clients are those in need of a befriender. We were able to support one wheelchair-using client who needed supporting walking her dog, Banjo. As anything involving friendly animals is a popular option for our volunteers, we were able to match the client with three different students who work together to co-ordinate walking the dog on different days. Such a simple act has provided some canine therapy for our students and some well-deserved respite for our client. She gave us some brilliant feedback: “Thank you so much for sending me all of the dog walkers. It has made a massive difference and they were all lovely. Banjo absolutely loved his walks with them”.
Homework Help and Teaching English as and Additional Language
1. One of our Homework Help clients is a 16-year-old young-carer with learning difficulties and also experiencing bereavement following the recent death of his brother. He was falling significantly behind his peers during his crucial GCSE year. Fortunately, we were able to match him with a recent Science Graduate who was undergoing an internship at Microsoft. Despite having no previous mentoring experience, the volunteer took the time to learn the client and his needs, helping him to learn at his own pace, particularly with his Maths GCSE. When we caught up with the clients Mother she said “[the SCA volunteer] has been brilliant, reliably helping him with Maths every week since they’ve been matched… he is a real life-line for us at the moment and we are so grateful for his support”.
2. One of our TEAL clients moved to the UK from Spain about 2 years ago, and as the youngest in his family, he had some real challenges getting up to speed with the English communication levels of his peers, especially after having to make the jump from year 1 learning to year 3! As part of our Homework Help project, we were able to match him with Clarice, an MML student with a passion for teaching English. They started face-to-face sessions in Lent term and have continued their sessions remotely since the start of Lockdown. His mum said: “Clarice has been an amazing help to my son. She is so engaged with him and her tips and tricks for improving his English are always fun and memorable for him. We are so grateful for Clarice’s support, now during lockdown more than ever, because we are a Spanish Speaking home so it’s brilliant for him to have someone who can correct his pronunciation. He finds sessions with her very fun so they don’t feel like work to him, also, he always feels so important on video-call, impersonating mummy who is working from home”.
1.”I’m a second year undergraduate studying Natural Sciences, and I volunteer in North Cambridge once a week as a ‘Big Sib’ for a young boy. I first joined SCA after seeing the stall at the sports fair (although SCA can involve a lot of waking I would still not consider it a sport ;D) and the friendliness and warmth of the people running the organisation persuaded me to sign up. SCA volunteering has had a major positive impact on my time in Cambridge. For me, it has been a surprising easy process of connecting with and getting to know my little sib, thanks to the patience and openness of him and his mum. I think this may have improved my confidence in meeting and speaking with new people. It has also been an enjoyable experience just to get out of the city centre for a few hours and to see their beautiful (and tiny) dog. I don’t always know what I’m doing, but I’ve found that those are some of the most impactful moments – when you are forced to talk and, more importantly, listen. I can’t speak for my little sib himself, but it is my hope and my belief that he has had some small measure of enjoyment from my volunteering with him.” – James, 2nd year Natural Sciences student.
2. “I remember a time last exam term when I was feeling particularly stressed out about my exams, the first of which was in a few days. I went to see my Little Sib and it really helped me put things into perspective, gave me a chance to breathe and let me escape the bubble and take my mind off the pressure I was under. I was feeling particularly worked up because I had just done a mock exam and it had gone horribly. I felt much more relaxed and happy afterwards, as it had been good to get outside, focus on my Little Sib and chat about the things that were important to him – he asked a few small questions about my exam and it made it seem much less of a big deal. The following week he very casually asked how the exams had gone, and then moved on to something that had happened at school that day – the whole experience really helped calm me and put everything I was experiencing into a bit of perspective!” – Matt, 3rd year Politics student.