Reflecting on my volunteering experience

Volunteering at Staywell reaffirmed my desire to live a life dedicated to public service. From working alongside experienced staff, it became clear to me that the contribution and leadership of young individuals was important in carrying on the culture of dignity and independence in the later stages of life.

Before volunteering at Staywell, I had limited knowledge of the adult social care sector compared to staff who had decades of experience. Though I initially perceived this as a disadvantage, I soon realised that being a blank slate allowed me to have an independent view of the difficulties of older people in later years. So rather than being told what to think, I was able to think for myself by spending quality time serving members at the Raleigh House Day Centre, and having face-to-face discussions with them. This gave a firm idea of their shared concerns, including their loneliness, illnesses, unmet personal care needs, and financial hardship.


Subsequently, as I made home visits to older people in Kingston, helping them to access Attendance Allowance benefits, and suitable transportation, it was clear that Staywell sought to honour and cultivate the virtues of trust, dignity, and remembrance of the elderly in Kingston. Each service delivery began by listening attentively to the challenges of users, including those challenges unspoken, yet identifiable with professional experience. Afterwards, we handled users' vulnerability and data delicately by delivering discreet and respectful advisory support. Finally, it was always important to leave our hosts encouraged and delighted. Overall Staywell’s culture of promoting trust, dignity and independence stood out to me as most important.


Collaborating with diverse staff and volunteers also made my learning rapid and memorable, giving me a glimpse into the interconnected experiences of staff, volunteers, and services users, including their joyous recollections, sorrows, loneliness, and illnesses. I was also provided with an open space to ask difficult questions about the dilemmas facing Staywell in finding the balance between providing low prices and high quality to ensure sustainability. These were met with open and enthusiastic attitudes, culminating in shared concerns, sometimes shifting into smiling faces and laughter, but always ending with a sigh of gratitude.

Though I may not have had the opportunity to demonstrate my best work in such a limited amount of time, being in my youth and witnessing the challenges faced by older people has only reinforced my desire to live a life dedicated to public service; a life lived with and for others.  


Ola-Oluwa Awobajo

Information & Advice Volunteer

MA Social Justice & Public Service