Telling a good story – Dementia Reading Companions

Bob, a dementia reading companion

Bob: “I can tell a good story!”

We all love to hear a good story, but for people with dementia hearing a good story or poem read aloud can be more than just enjoyable – it can be a way to trigger memories and personal stories, open doors to feelings and build bridges to connect to their own past.

The Dementia Reading Companions are a group of volunteers who have been specially trained to lead hour long sessions for people with dementia. The volunteers prepare not only the material to read but a range of other resources, available from Kirklees Libraries and Information Centres, that link to the text and encourage people to make connections with their own lives and memories.

The project has attracted volunteers from lots of different backgrounds:


Bob Clarke saw the advert for volunteers in his local library. He thought: “I can tell a good story!” and immediately phoned up to apply. Bob describes himself as a true Yorkshire man who still does all his own DIY, except for replacing roof tiles as at the grand age of 92 he feels he shouldn’t climb on the roof. Bob is a retired fireman who spent many years working for the West Yorkshire Fire Service and for St James’s Hospital in Leeds as a fire training officer. He loves to read and tell stories, and his favourite poem is Lord Byron’s Semacherib. Bob runs a group at a care home in Gomersal, with fellow volunteer Adrian, and has run three sessions already. His first gave him good experience of heckling as someone called out “Get on with it!”


Susanna and Chris, dementia reading companions

Susanna and Chris

Susanna Shotter got involved because having spent the last few years at home being a mum, she was planning to return to work in the near future and thought volunteering would be a good route back. Susanna is an Occupational Therapist and has considerable experience running groups and working with people with dementia, something she feels passionate about. She is starting some sessions at a care home in Newsome. Susanna unexpectedly got more involved in the project than she had originally planned, when she stepped in to deliver some dementia awareness sessions as part of the volunteer induction training. As well as dementia awareness, the induction training covered how to run a group, listening skills, managing difficult situations and included input from Kirklees Libraries and Information Centres on resources available in local libraries to support the sessions.


Chris Loveday was drawn to the project because as a former English teacher he has a love of books and reading that he was keen to share, and the idea of using literature therapeutically was too good to resist!  Chris has yet to start his sessions but hopes to do so in the future.


Could you be a Dementia Reading Companion?

It’s an enjoyable, social role with immediate feedback!
Contact Chris Stephen on 01484 519053.
More info:
Dementia Reading Companions – Volunteering Kirklees
Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

The twelfth way of Christmas…

The twelfth day of Christmas...

Please volunteer and SHARE the #12ways on your social media. If you aren’t just the right person, maybe someone you know is!

One Good Turn support people in poverty and isolation. They are a very grassroots, locally-based charity who believe that one good turn deserves another. They believe getting people the practical help they need at the time they need it is the best way to make sure that next time round, they are the ones helping someone else.

The Yorkshire Choice Awards are a celebration of achievement in Yorkshire. One Good Turn have been nominated for the Charitable Business Award. Please take two minutes to vote for them: Vote for One Good Turn

Or, if you want to give time, money or stuff contact Amanda, Sophia or Jennie on 01484538700 or Or via the webiste at One Good Turn

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

The eleventh way of Christmas…

The eleventh way of Christmas

Please volunteer and SHARE the #12ways on your social media. If you aren’t just the right person, maybe someone you know is!

Carers Count  is a charity that recognises that being a carer can impact on your day to day life: physically, mentally and emotionally. They aim to promote the wellbeing of carers by offering advice, information, training and support through different group activities.

If you are a carer or know someone who gives their time and energy unpaid to look after an adult family member or friend who needs support due to illness or disability, then please tell your GP the next time you go into the surgery. Because carers count, we need to count our carers!

For more information about their work visit their website: Carers Count

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

The tenth way of Christmas…

The tenth way of Christmas

Please volunteer and SHARE the #12ways on your social media. If you aren’t just the right person, maybe someone you know is!

Ruddi’s Retreat Café supports families affected by cancer and other serious illnesses as well as those bereaved. Through afternoon teas, coffees, sandwiches and a vintage sweet shop they make money to provide families affected by cancer with a holiday to help them come to terms with their situation. They have 2 caravans in Primrose Valley, Filey.

To keep up this great work they need volunteers to help run the cafe and ensure that they are running at a profit sooner than later. If you could give them a few hours of help, contact Kate on 01484 766050.

Ruddi’s Retreat

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

The ninth way of Christmas…

The ninth way of Christmas


Huddersfield Mission support people who find themselves in a sudden and immediate crisis or people who struggle to manage their life for a variety of reasons. Their clients find themselves on the margins of society because of financial poverty, drug and alcohol issues, temporary or on-going mental health problems, a history of offending, learning disabilities or simply a sudden life crisis.

One easy way you can help them is by purchasing a £3.50 meal deal voucher. You can then pass this on to someone in need, or the Mission will make sure it gets to someone who needs it. Along with a full meal there is the offer of advice and support.

Drop by the Mission or contact Paul on 01484 421461 or

Huddersfield Mission

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

The eighth way of Christmas…

The eighth way of Christmas

Forget me Not Children’s Hospice cares for families who have a child with a life shortening condition.

They need volunteers to help their Christmas fundraising activities: bag packing in a supermarket or bucket rattling on the street on various dates in December.

If you can spare an hour, contact Lynsey on 01484 411040 or

Forget me Not Children’s Hospice

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

The seventh way of Christmas…

The seventh way of Christmas


Support to Recovery is a local mental health charity. They promote positive mental health and well-being by providing preventative, therapeutic services for individuals and their carers. And they really don’t want you to be SAD this Christmas…

During December and January they are working to make people aware of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, a major cause of depression in the winter months. Pop in and try out a light box, or give 10 minutes of your lunch hour between 12 noon and 1pm handing out information.

If you can help, contact Paula on 07455677700 or

Support to Recovery

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

The sixth way of Christmas…

The sixth way of Christmas...

Please SHARE on your social media. If you aren’t just the right person, maybe someone you know is!

West Yorkshire Dog Rescue is a small volunteer-led rescue charity who work to rehome around 350 dogs a year. They don’t use kennels but rather foster carers who look after the rescue dogs until a new home can be found. Dogs are for life not just for Christmas.

Every weekend in December they are fundraising in the Pets at Home stores throughout Kirklees where you could buy ‘a dog’s dinner’ – which is Pets at Home’s way of supporting their charity. January is their busiest time as they try to foster dogs abandoned at Christmas.

To find out more contact Dante on 07707 980245 or

West Yorkshire Dog Rescue 

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

Why everyone has something to offer as a school governor

Anna, a local school governor

Anna, one of three school governors who shared their story with us

Have you ever thought about being a school governor?

Local schools are looking for more governors from all backgrounds. It’s a really important and rewarding role. You don’t need to have children or have a child in the school in order to be a governor – and there’s free training and support available.

Being a school governor is a great way to gain new skills and to use your own experiences to help a local school develop. The average time commitment is 10 to 15 hours per term, and meetings usually take place in the evenings.

Want to hear first hand what you can expect? We talked to three school governors to find out why they got involved and why they’d recommend it…


What made you say “I’m in” to being a school governor?

After being involved with the school PTA for a couple of years I found that I really enjoyed working with the school team. By later becoming a school governor this gave me the opportunity to have my say on the policies and procedures… from the perspective of a parent. – Fatima

I had a good education and this was made possible by people who had volunteered their time in the past to oversee the running of the schools I went to.  I felt it was time to give back some of my skills to help a school grow and inspire children to do well in their education. – Anna

I wanted to contribute to my community plus I was dissatisfied with the experience my eldest daughter was having at Shelley College.  I decided I had no right to complain if I wasn’t prepared to do my bit and help the college to improve.  – Adele


What do you get out of doing it?

I have learnt so much by being a governor. It is important to me to ensure that we can support schools to give the best education they can to their pupils. I really enjoy the knowledge that I have played a role in improving the children’s education at their school. – Fatima

A good sense of pride.  I like the feeling of being able to make a contribution to something that in my mid-thirties, I am very distanced from on a daily basis… There’s a real sense of working together as a team to make things better whilst at the same time enjoying what we’re doing. – Anna

I am learning how to use my professional skills in a different arena which is increasing my confidence… I feel proud to be doing something valuable within my community and hopefully influencing the future of our young people. – Adele


Why do you think others should volunteer as a school governor?

We need people to volunteer to become governors to ensure that governing bodies continue to have a range of skills and strengths. Education is facing many challenges and we as governors can help support schools through this… It is also a great opportunity for personal growth and skills development. – Fatima

It allows you to give back what you know, what you’ve experienced, what you have a passion for… It has been really helpful being the ‘outsider’ because it helps to ask simple questions that the school would never have asked itself. It opens doors to making new friends and learning from people’s different experiences.  – Anna

The main reason though to be a school governor is to do your duty as a citizen and give back to your community and influence the future of the next generation. Schools need people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences in order to make the most informed decisions and so everyone has something to offer. – Adele


Interested? Here’s how to apply…

You can find out more about the roles and responsibilities of a school governor by visiting the SGOSS – Governors for Schools web site and you can apply online.

You’re also welcome to get in touch with SGOSS’s area manager. Please email: or call Gemma on 020 7288 9536.


Thank you

Thanks very much to Anna (a governor at St.Joseph’s Catholic Primary School), to Fatima Khan-Shah (a governor at Reinwood Nursery Infant School) and to Adele Poppleton (a governor at Shelley College) for sharing their experiences with us.


Have you got a volunteering story to share? We’d love to hear from you.

Contact us

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone

Connect, Share, Grow – volunteering opportunities with local food and drink projects

I'm In sign with pot of chives

We’re marking the start of Food Festival season by sharing some local volunteering opportunities that involve growing, cooking or sharing food and drink. Got a volunteering opportunity to promote? Tweet us @ImInKirklees or leave a reply on this page.


Connect, Share, Grow – local volunteering opportunities

Get involved – volunteering opportunities with local food & drink projects


Bud volunteers

Growing Works are providing a break for carers in the outdoor environment with Bud sessions at the accessible Almondbury Allotment. This enables carers to spend quality time with the people they care for. It’s also a great opportunity for volunteers to get involved and make a difference to people’s lives.

Where: Almondbury Allotment, next to Almondbury Children’s Centre, off Farfield Road, Huddersfield HD5 8TD.

When: Fridays from 10am to 12.30pm

Contact: email or call 01484 606506.

More info: Bud sessions for carers at Almondbury Allotment


Volunteer School Assistant

Age UK (Calderdale and Kirklees) are looking for older people to volunteer in local schools. You will work with the children to help them grow food, learn how to cook it and share your own skills and knowledge with them. Full training is provided for volunteers, along with ongoing support and out of pocket expenses to cover any relevant costs.

Where: Schools, allotments and partner sites.

When: During school hours.

Contact: Call 01422 252 040 or email

More info: Volunteer School Assistant –


Community allotment growers

Growing Newsome will give you a friendly welcome at their community allotment. There’s plenty for volunteers to do all year round, including veg planting, sowing seeds, digging, fruit picking and woodwork. It’s a great way to make new friends, learn about food growing and enjoy being outdoors. Visit little or often.

Where: Ashenhurst Avenue Allotments, entrance between 67 & 69 Ashenhurst Avenue, Newsome, Huddersfield HD4 6PX.

When: Sundays from 10am to 1pm (or contact us for other days and times).
Open Day on Saturday 8th August 2015 from 10am to 12 noon.

Contact: email or call Diane on 07941 652836.

More info: Growing Newsome


West View Café volunteer

Volunteering in Paddock Community Trust’s community café will give you the chance to expand your cooking and customer service skills. You will also experience working within a catering environment.

Where: Paddock Village Hall, West View, Paddock, Huddersfield HD1 4TX.

When: Choice of days, Monday to Saturday.

Contact: email or call 01484 431400.

More info: Volunteering with Paddock Community Trust


Real Junk Food Project helpers

The Real Junk Food Project are a group of people who have pledged to dedicate time to use surplus and donated food to feed homeless people, low-income families, students and anyone struggling financially. They are looking for people with any amount of spare time to get involved, whether it is letting other people know about the project, washing dishes or donating food.

Where: Sensory World, Old Westgate, Dewsbury WF13 1NB.

When: Please get in touch for more info.

Contact: email: or call 01924 465152.

More info: The Real Junk Food Project Dewsbury – Facebook page


Oakes Community Café

This not-for-profit cafe provides good wholesome, affordable food for the local community in friendly surroundings. Become a café or kitchen assistant to help make it happen. This might include serving food, washing up, clearing tables and preparing food. Training and meals provided. We may be able to pay travel expenses.

Where: Oakes Baptist Church, Oakes, Lindley, Huddersfield HD3 3EW.

When: Fridays (we ask for a minimum commitment of two months).

Contact: via Volunteering Kirklees, email: or call 01484 519053.

More info: Oakes Baptist Church – Community Cafe



You might also be interested in…

FINE project

We offer tree training for local volunteers working with food and drink, to help you run cooking sessions or learn healthy eating messages that you can pass on to your community. Courses include healthy eating, menu planning and shopping for healthy food on a tight budget. Contact the FINE team by email or call 01484 416883.


Grow local

There are lots of other food growing groups who will welcome your support. Find your nearest group on the Food Kirklees web site:

Growing groups – Food Kirklees


Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrEmail to someone