Lauren McSheehy, 20 from Barry, has always had a link to Tŷ Hafan from the beginning. As a child, she often visited our hospice to receive medical treatment and support from our staff and this support continued on after she had recovered. Due to her illness and her recovery time, Lauren missed school and had developed some anxiety meaning she couldn’t go to college or look for a job so reached out to the support team at Tŷ Hafan for some help. Lauren said “I spoke to Katie from the Tŷ Hafan care team and mentioned my anxiety and she suggested volunteering as a way of overcoming it. She knew I enjoyed crafting and making things so she arranged for me to meet with Penny at the Handcrafted studio.” .
It was this first meeting that sold Lauren on the idea of volunteering as she recalls “Seeing the studio and how welcoming it is, having a demonstration, seeing what they make and meeting Penny prior to volunteering really made me feel comfortable and eager to volunteer.”
Fast forward 5 months and Lauren is now one of Handcrafted’s most regular volunteers, coming in for at least 2 days per week. For her, it’s a break away from it all and lets her just come in and concentrate on the task at hand. She does anything that needs doing, painting, sanding, and even sewing (a new skill, thanks Penny!) and finds these activities very therapeutic for her anxiety. She also meets new people every session and tells them all her story as “meeting all the groups and telling them my story helps me with my confidence and also gives them more of an understanding to what Tŷ Hafan does.” It’s with the new-found confidence that Lauren has made new friends with the other volunteers she has met, even going to a concert with one!
But it’s not just the social aspect that keeps Lauren coming back! For her, Handcrafted’s creative nature is one of its biggest selling points as it lets her use her crafty skills while also being completely different every time. She said “There’s always something different to do – some new project to work on. You might be sewing up Woofachiefs in one session and sanding a table in the next!” She also mentions the sense of achievement felt when something is completed as for her “It’s nice to see something come full circle, to see a product go from start to upcycled completion to being sold and money being raised.”
When asked why she chose to volunteer with Tŷ Hafan, Lauren remarked that for her it was the natural choice, they had helped her so much through the years so for her it was a way to give something back to the hospice. It has allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of Tŷ Hafan and the work that is done by everyone here.
Lastly when asked what would she say to encourage volunteering?
“Just do it! It’s an experience and you’ll get the best out of it.”