At Cosgarne Hall we have a wide variety of volunteering opportunities to get involved in, both for our residents and external volunteers. We believe that volunteering is great for personal development and fulfilment as well as community engagement, and an excellent example of this is ex-resident Jamie Lynn.
Jamie came to us three years ago with a variety of serious health issues which were incredibly damaging to his mental, as well as physical wellbeing. He was reluctant to engage with staff and showed little desire to leave the confines of his room or do anything to change his situation. A family breakdown had left him feeling isolated and purposeless, to the detriment of his health and personal development.
As a part of staff’s efforts to help him engage more, Jamie was encouraged to participate in our kitchen which is entirely volunteer run. He began by starting to cook and responded so well to this that he was quickly promoted to Kitchen Supervisor, a role which he really took in his stride. He was given responsibility of various tasks such as stock check, menu planning and rota organisation, and really excelled in managing the other volunteers. He took great pride in his work, and thrived in the role, impressing staff with his enthusiasm and willingness to take on even more responsibility.
Volunteering gave him a new lease of life, and he was eager to help in all aspects of life at Cosgarne, but the kitchen was his true passion. Even when he had his bad days and struggled to engage, entering the kitchen brought him to life and gave him something that truly belonged to him where he could feel in control and valued. Jamie stated that he loved being busy, and that the responsibility gave him real purpose, and a structure to his day.
As with all of our residents, the eventual goal was to move Jamie on to independent living, and as a result of his increased positive engagement, staff were able to prepare him to make that next step. An opportunity became available through the Landlord Incentive Scheme, and as soon as he found out that there was a chance for him to have a home of his own, he threw himself into the kitchen activities even more than before.
After three years with us, Jamie has now successfully moved in to private accommodation in Hayle where he is thrilled to be living closer to his family. He has already had a visit from his daughter and was eager to show her around his new home. Jamie will still receive ongoing support from staff in the forms of visits and phone calls from our outreach team to ensure that he is fully settled in the new area and is given everything that he needs to continue to sustain the tenancy and improve his health. He has already told staff that he is excited to be living close to the Cinnamon Trust as he is an avid dog lover and is already looking forward to getting involved in more volunteering.
There are many studies which cite the importance of volunteering in improving wellbeing. The Psychological Science Journal revealed that people who volunteer have better mental and physical health than those who do not, and the Mental Health Foundation stated that helping others “improves our self-esteem and confidence” as well as helping to “reduce loneliness and isolation”. We have definitely seen the effects of this here at Cosgarne and encourage all of our residents to get involved in some form of voluntary activity. The farm is particularly popular in this regard, with residents volunteering to feed the animals and tend to our small garden.
Volunteering did wonders for Jamie’s physical and mental wellbeing during his stay at Cosgarne Hall and having a purpose and somewhere to direct his attentions really helped his outlook on life. Though we will miss his presence here in the kitchen, we hope that he does decide to continue volunteering in his new community, and that it will help him thrive there as he did here.