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The International Day of Persons with Disabilities

VIVA extends its remit



At lunchtime today I was browsing the BBC news website and, after scaring myself that Russia and Ukraine might start World War 3, I came across the article above. Sad, in some ways, to hear how moving to a new area or having a baby can lead to such feelings of loneliness. I was, however, delighted to hear how both the individuals featured found some solace through either volunteering or reaching out for help to charities in their respective areas.

It also reminded me that, in a slight "tweak" to how we run the VIVA scheme,  we are now able to offer our service to people who are "isolated, lonely or experiencing poverty" in addition to our longstanding commitment to work with people with disabilities and health problems.

Volunteering can be a great way to make new friends and reduce those feelings of loneliness so if you, or someone you know, finds themselves in that situation please check out the VIVA page of our website and bear us in mind.


My Final Blog From the Volunteer Cornwall Office

Blog by Matthew Salisbury

I have enjoyed my time here at Volunteer Cornwall.

The staff here are nice people.

My mum and I are very grateful for you allowing me to volunteer here at the office.

I’m looking forward to hopefully volunteering at the British Heart Foundation in Camborne listing ebay items, customer service etc.

I will miss being at the Volunteer Cornwall office.


Things I have achieved while being here:

  • Setting up a Viva football buddy scheme to watch Plymouth Argyle at home.
  • Going on Coast FM to talk about volunteering
  • Getting a gold medal in Sheffield for football

What roles I have done:

  • Research
  • Use Microsoft Access
  • Input Special Olympics people’s name, address etc
  • Write blogs
  • Mind maps

I have been to lots of events organised by Volunteer Cornwall including:

  • Tall Ships
  • 40th Birthday celebrations
  • I will be going to the Volunteer Awards and I’ve been nominated for an award.
  • Blue Light Days
  • Party in the Park once or twice
  • Beach day thing
  • Christmas event at end of the year
  • Boat trip to Falmouth
  • Café Chaos open day
  • Safeguarding training
  • IT training
  • Going to Tottenham Hotspur White Hart Lane


To sum up I’ve enjoyed my time here at Volunteer Cornwall.

App to help people with autism deal with anxiety

Published by Steve Ford, VIVA Project Officer

Given my working pattern, and being a bit of a politics "nerd", I was watching Prime Minister's Questions a couple of weeks ago and was interested to hear a Member of Parliament raising the subject of an App designed to help people with autism recognise and manage their anxiety.

I jotted down the name of the App and, with a little bit of net "surfing", have managed to track down Autistica's "Molehill Mountain" app (see link below)


As I only have access to an Android phone I'm not yet able to access it but I have received a lovely e mail from the team at Autistica to let me know that the Android version of the App will be available in a few weeks' time and that I will be receiving the first of their anxiety e mail series just as soon as they know the android launch date. I'll be sure to post another blog as soon as I have more to report but, for any of you out there who knows someone with autism or is on the spectrum themselves, it's another useful piece of information to have about the help out there.



Viva Extending

During the last couple of months, we have been promoting our VIVA project, being very excited and pleased that we have had our contract extended until 2019. This means we can continue to offer support to individuals with disabilities to access volunteering activities.

I have been working on my own case load at long last and am really enjoying getting out of the office and meeting people who have been referred. I get to know what their struggles are, what they enjoy doing, their passions and aspirations, and importantly for me, what makes them laugh.

People with disabilities can often face a lot of barriers to participation in volunteering. We encounter people from charities who feel that their volunteering opportunity could not be filled by a disabled person or that accommodating a disabled volunteer would be too difficult, or a drain on resources for the support that would be required. To ensure a positive experience for both the organisation and the disabled volunteer, we work closely with all parties in identifying specific barriers and developing strategies to address them. During the discussion we may consider simple adjustments which may be needed, e.g. transport arrangements or specialist equipment, and flexible working arrangements. Often it is just a small thing that can make all the difference, along with having a clear role rather than feeling like a ‘spare part.’

Another barrier can be a person’s own perception; that they believe a role may be too challenging, and they don’t want to be a hindrance or offered a role out of charity. Health conditions affecting their reliability is another common concern.

I met a lovely gentleman not long ago who is recovering from a stroke; he struggles to walk, and has aphasia, experiencing difficulties with talking, reading, telling the time and remembering things. He was an active person before his stroke and is very keen to volunteer and ‘start getting his life back’. He has lost his confidence and isn’t sure what he could do or offer.

It took a short while to encourage and help him identify positive things he can bring to a voluntary role. He has a passion for talking to the elderly – and loves learning about their life and local history. He is also interested in sports, having previously been part of a football team and involved in martial arts.

I have, hopefully, reassured him that he has lots to offer and in a couple of weeks’ time we are meeting with an organisation who provide gentle chair exercises for older people and a social group. The initial conversation with the manager was very positive; talking about how he can get involved with supporting the class and offering companionship and expressing a desire to accommodate him and help reduce any barriers to enable him to volunteer.

My hope is that over the next couple of months, he’ll be able to meet new people and fill his time constructively while helping others. Perhaps it’ll be the first step in a long term involvement in volunteering, perhaps it’ll be a way of regaining confidence and ‘getting his life back.’ It’s impossible to tell up front what difference volunteering might make to someone’s life but the Viva project exists because we think everyone should have a fair chance at finding out what volunteering could do for them.