Volunteer role: Branch Officer, South Gloucestershire Branch

'I can make a difference to a young person's life and their family by providing activities and support groups.' Donna, Branch Officer at our South Gloucestershire Branch
Donna volunteers with her local branch to provide activities and support groups. Her son was diagnosed in 2008. 

How did you first hear about volunteering at the National Autistic Society?

I have been a member since my son was diagnosed in 2008. I accessed many support groups for information, advice and support. 

How long have you been volunteering?

I have been branch officer since September 2018, before that I was a parent volunteer.

What is your motivation for volunteering with us?

My motivation is my son. He was let down so badly with services, I do not want another parent to feel like I did. I feel activities are the best way forward in helping the autistic youngsters feel less isolated and able to access everything that their peers do in a more friendly environment. My saying has always been happy child, happy parent.

What do you like about volunteering with us?

I can make a difference to a young person's life and their family by providing activities and support groups with the support of the National Autistic Society. I get to meet and make friends with some wonderful people.

There have been so many enjoyable moments, but if I had to pick one, it would be taking a young autistic child from a reclusive, isolative place and making them smile. This has happened so many times it makes me continue to do what I do. There is nothing like a child’s smile to warm your heart and make life worth living.

My son changes his hair colour for the National Autistic Society as it makes the kids laugh and it makes him feel more approachable and confident. I think working with the National Autistic Society has brought Sam out of his shell as he sees the rewards I get through making people happy and how happy it makes me, he wants to be part of it.

What's been your best moment?

We have a young lady who booked onto Science Group, on her first visit she could not get out of her mum’s car, mum worried that she was taking another child’s place by booking her daughter on. After some reassurance I asked her to book again for the following month. The second month the young lady made it to the door, the third month she made it into club, on the fourth month she stayed till break and now she comes regularly every month and this has turned her world around. She now has friends in the group and is flourishing.

How has volunteering made a difference to your life?

Volunteering is the biggest part of my social life, I enjoy every moment. Just to see the youngsters happy is enough for me.

Have you learnt any additional skills from your role?

Patience, understanding and a smile can mean the whole world to someone who is feeling frustrated, lonely, angry, isolated, lost, and confused. A cup of tea and a chat is so much more than that when you are working with families with a youngster with autism.

 

Thank you Donna, and all our other Branch Officers, who provide so many activities and events for autistic people and families.

We need more people like Donna to help us continue to support autistic people and their families. 

Register to volunteer with us