Volunteer role: Branch Officer and Chair for the Lambeth Branch

'Volunteering has given me the opportunity to develop new skills, and build on my experience and knowledge of autism from a different perspective.' Venessa, Branch Officer and Chair for our Lambeth Branch

Venessa has volunteered with our Lambeth Branch since April 2015. As a Branch Chair, she's been able to meet new people, find out what's happening within the autistic community and bring communities together.

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

Becoming a Chair for the Lambeth Branch was due to me attending many events at the National Autistic Society HQ. I met the previous Chair, Anna Roads, and was able to understand the role, but I never realised that I would become a chair or volunteer for the National Autistic Society in this capacity. 

What is your motivation for volunteering with us?

Being Chair of the Lambeth Branch has given me the opportunity to raise awareness and connect with other Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities across the UK. Running various sessions and networking with many professionals, I am able to signpost, share information and collaborate with other BAME groups in hosting events with representation from BAME autistic people and families. Please check out BAME and Autism.

What's your connection to autism?

My middle son, Nathaniel, was diagnosed with autism and ADHD in April 2008, he is now 16. My youngest daughter, Michaela, was diagnosed with ASC, ADHD, Severe Expressive Receptive Language and Benign Rolandic Epilepsy between January 2017 and March 2018, whilst my oldest is diagnosed with Moderate Language Difficulties, pending a diagnosis.

What do you like about volunteering with us?

Volunteering has given me the opportunity to develop new skills, and build on my experience and knowledge on autism from a different perspective.

What has been your most enjoyable moment volunteering?

Seeing parents of autistic children/young people and autistic people smile. The most moving story I can share is from the Lambeth Autism Group, Stay and Play. We run a bike session called Wheels for Wellbeing. A girl came with her mother, I looked around and the mother was crying for joy as she quickly took a photo of her daughter. It's important to have autism-specific sessions for our children to give them the space to be themselves and to learn something new with service providers that understand.

How has volunteering made a difference to your life?

I have been able to meet new people, find out what's happening within the autistic community and also bring communities together.

My advice to anyone who wants to volunteer for the National Autistic Society is not to think they can do everything. Our committee is small but they all have qualities, fantastic ideas and we are able to come together and support each other. 

Will volunteering help your future?

For me, volunteering for the National Autistic Society I have been able to build on my knowledge, gain understanding in working with autistic people, parents and professionals and outreaching to new families seeking for assistance.  

Have you learnt any additional skills from your role?

Chairing groups, working with the local authorities and professionals which I would never have been able to do. And one great achievement is being a co-author on Girls and Autism by Professor Barry Carpenter et al. Through the skills I have gained via the National Autistic Society, it gave me the opportunity to meet with other authors and journalists to prepare and plan how to write my book.

 

Thank you Venessa, and all our other branch chairs and volunteers, who are providing a lifeline for autistic people and their families all around the UK.

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

Register to volunteer with us