My Brightwell volunteering story – by Colette Hall

As one of the original residents in Bradley Stoke, I remember the wild fields where the Brightwell now stands.

What a difference 35 years makes! Instead of fields, we now have the vibrant and friendly Brightwell which cares for and supports people living with neurological conditions. As well as providing oxygen therapy, physiotherapy and other support for its members it also provides a host of volunteering opportunities for people who have time to give. After retiring eight years ago, I was looking for an opportunity to keep my brain ticking over and meet new people and the Brightwell was the ideal place for me.

My volunteering role started with making members hot drinks and biscuits after their therapies on a Wednesday afternoon. It was great to chat to the members and hear all their stories and experiences. By the time I went home I felt as though I had had my own therapy session.

After members told me about the benefits oxygen therapy gave them, I was intrigued. Before I knew it, I was a fully trained oxygen chamber volunteer. It all looked so complicated at first but I was soon operating the chamber on a Tuesday afternoon. Again, there was plenty of opportunity to chat to the members and other volunteers and to eat biscuits.

As the Brightwell are always looking for ideas to fundraise, I offered to run an evening bingo session which is open to everyone. At first the sessions were attended by a few people but it soon grew and we now have a bingo session every two months regularly attended by 40+ people. We have great fun including prize games, cash games and a silly bingo game. If you are lucky enough, then you may even get one of the many Freddo chocolates I throw out to attendees. Everyone brings their own drinks and snacks and we raise a great deal of money for the Brightwell.

I have taken a break from operating the oxygen chamber and I am now back to where I started, meeting and greeting members and visitors to the centre. I also keep the central area neat and tidy, make teas and coffees, chat and help members with the occasional crossword. And not to forget eating biscuits!

What’s there not to like about volunteering at the Brightwell? It’s a vibrant, happy place and I love volunteering there. If you are interested then, please visit us and see for yourself. Please call 01454 201686.