Sue is an older lady with a straw hat, a pink t-shirt, and a backpack. She has short sandy coloured hair and hoop earrings, and is smiling at the camera.

Sue has been volunteering with Aphasia Re-Connect for 4 years – this is her experience:

In May 2015, I retired from my job of 45 years as a Speech and Language Therapist.

Leading up to retirement, I had been very concerned as to how I would make the transition to a different way of life. But I did know I wanted to continue being with people who had some form of communication difficulty and volunteering provided the answer. Being part of the Tuesday ‘Conversation Group’ and the Thursday ‘Drop-in’ in Southwark gave me a renewed sense of purpose as I felt a sense of belonging. After a couple of years of volunteering, I decided to focus my time on the Thursday ‘Drop-In’.

I have now been volunteering for almost four years with Aphasia Re-Connect, and I continue to love getting involved. Every Thursday morning, there are often as many as 20 people, including volunteers. It’s a joy to be part of such a mixed group of friends of all ages, interests and backgrounds.

Many people know each other, but all are welcoming to anyone new who may attend. I enjoy art and travel in the UK and have had some fantastic conversations, albeit using gesture and simple drawings to supplement speech.

I am constantly amazed at what adventurous lives people have lived.

One especially comical conversation occurred between me and someone in his eighties with aphasia who used to run several clothes stalls in the original Kensington market-in the 1960s. As a teenager, I used to enjoy a Saturday morning trip to Kensington Market in the 1960s. With the help of photos on an i-pad, we had a great time discussing the fact that I may well have bought an Afghan coat from this man’s stall – high fashion in those days!

I have learned so much about people and their interests. I now know quite a bit about fishing from an industrial size ring net fishing boat in the Seychelles, thanks to a regular member of the Thursday Drop-in!

Drop-in can be relaxed and restorative as well. Just being alongside people with similar difficulties is helpful and affirming.

So, in conclusion, what a great time I’m having as a volunteer with ‘Aphasia Re-Connect’ – thank you all!

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