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Sue on being a ‘virtual’ Volunteer Ambassador

It’s safe to say that Sue has managed to make the best out of a challenging year as a Volunteer Ambassador for Dementia UK. This Volunteer’s Week, she tells us how she overcame the obstacle of lockdown restrictions by turning her hand to technology, involving her friends across the UK and how she ultimately had a great time doing it. Thank you, Sue!

Being a Volunteer Ambassador in the past year or so has certainly been different and definitely challenging. But we’ve all had to learn how to adapt and find new ways of doing things and, to be honest, supporting Dementia UK in this way has been such good fun.

My first virtual board game event

My first taste of being a virtual Volunteer Ambassador started at the end of 2020, when the Raise Your Game challenge was launched.

I originally wanted to host a fun evening of playing board games in my local village hall, but restrictions prevented it. So, I came up with a way of playing my favourite board game, Super Cluedo, online with a few friends. I encouraged everyone to dress up as their character and, with the help of my technically-minded daughter, I found a way to show the board to everyone via Zoom and clues were sent in private chat messages.

We raised £406, just by playing a game of Cluedo! It was such good fun and we have played it three times since.

Finding my feet as a virtual Volunteer Ambassador

I was also asked by the team to support a fundraiser who was hosting a 24-hour marathon on Instagram for Raise Your Game. I treated this no differently to going to see the supporter in person, and everything was done instead by video or telephone. Learning all the new technology made me realise that I could stay safe at home and still be a very active Volunteer Ambassador.

I also signed up to be a Facebook Champion to help with the new virtual campaigns on Facebook, answering comments and contributing to the community atmosphere. I helped out with the Jog 50 miles in November Challenge and then the Dog Walking Challenge in March – and I haven’t even got a dog! Our latest challenge is ongoing and is the Cycle 100 miles in June and no, I can’t ride a bike!

Making the most of a strange year

The concept of these challenges is so simple. People sign up to do them, set up a fundraiser and join the support group. The admins and other Volunteer Ambassadors help to answer questions and give support and encouragement.

This is a role I love doing – the way I see it, I am able to put my time and skills to good use through what has been a very strange year.

The Dog Walking challenge alone raised over £2 million pounds and I am so proud to say I was part of that amazing effort.

Time for a cuppa

My latest events have been for Time for a Cuppa – my first being to invite friends to join me in my kitchen to bake some Lemon Muffins – VIRTUALLY! I sent out the list of ingredients in advance to all those taking part, and on the day I guided everyone through the process. The nice thing about this was I had friends joining from all over the UK, and one of my friends had her 9-year-old granddaughter taking part.

Not content with doing just that, I decided to host a Cake-Away the following Saturday. I invited people to pre-order from a selection of cakes and to book a time slot. We even offered to do home deliveries for those who couldn’t get to my address. Once more I have been absolutely amazed by the response and at present my total raised for both events is over £800.

Hopes for the future

At the beginning of the first Lockdown last March I was very despondent and just couldn’t see how I could be of any use to Dementia UK. Everything in my diary had been cancelled and I just couldn’t see a way forward.

Now, I love my role as a Virtual Volunteer Ambassador and I hope that soon I will be able to get back to seeing people for real once more. I think doing things virtually is going to be a great asset, especially through the winter months.

I would encourage everyone to give volunteering for Dementia UK a try!