Andy Skinner photo 3Andy Skinner, an 18-year-old student is calling for volunteers to take part in Sense Holidays, a unique holiday programme for deafblind children and adults taking place in various locations across England and Wales in July and August this year.  Andy, who is studying Occupational Therapy at Bournemouth University, was inspired to volunteer by his older sister, Emma (22), who is registered blind and has physical disabilities as a result of contracting meningitis when she was 6 months old.

The 18-year-old first volunteered for the holidays programme two years ago. With guidance from the charity and the help of another volunteer, he supported an 8-year-old boy who had hearing and sight loss, to enjoy go-karting, zorbing, tobogganing and trips to the beach.

Andy said that apart from learning valuable skills for his work as an occupational therapist in the future, volunteering also changed his perception of disability.

“Although I grew up around somebody with a disability I never really knew what it was like to spend time with a disabled person on a full one-to-one basis, tuning into their world, their fears and hopes.

“Volunteering on Sense Holidays has opened my eyes up to this and I think that it has helped me to gain a better understanding of what my sister’s disability means not only for her, but for the rest of my family too. It also made me realise the importance of a disabled person being able to access the same things as a non-disabled person like the opportunity to go on a summer holiday and try new activities.”

In 2014 Sense plans to run 24 week-long summer holidays across England and Wales for over 100 deafblind children and adults. The programme is completely dependent on volunteers, like Andy, who provide one-to-one support to deafblind people while enjoying a free week-long summer holiday and gaining valuable volunteering experience.

If you’d like to volunteer for Sense Holidays, visit www.sense.org.uk/content/volunteering-sense-holiday, call 0300 330 9250 or email holidays@sense.org.uk