Carles Forés from Valencia, Spain, recently spent seven weeks volunteering at Fremantle Court care home in Stoke Mandeville. His message for International Volunteer Day (5th December) is that contributing to society in this way is not only a positive experience, but a great learning opportunity.
International Volunteer Day (IVD) was set up by the United Nations and this year its theme is celebrating how volunteers can build resilience in communities.
64-year-old Carles studied pedagogy and psychology and went on to enjoy a thriving career which involved running his own exports company. It was while volunteering at Saint James’ Way and walking along the Camino de Santiago network of pilgrim routes across Europe that he met Robin Comerford, now regional director at The Fremantle Trust, and decided he wanted to volunteer within the organisation.
Carles ventured to the UK to volunteer at Fremantle Court, run by local care provider The Fremantle Trust, and soon bonded with the residents and team of employees. He spent his time getting involved in gardening, painting and supporting the broad range of activities on offer. He immersed himself into each aspect of life at the care home with bonhomie and warmth and soon became a much-loved addition to the team.
Having fully embraced the opportunity, Carles maintains that the experience was extremely rewarding and it also offered him the chance to reflect on his time as a student when he volunteered in a similar care role in the UK.
Speaking about this Carles said: “I feel really lucky to have had this opportunity – I’ve met some incredible people and the connection has often transcended words. Just to be there, to listen and to be a part of their lives during that time was a genuine privilege.”
Antonios Loumousiotis, manager of Fremantle Court, added: “International Volunteer Day is a great platform to recognise the remarkable contribution made by people like Carles as a volunteer from overseas. We welcome the opportunity to explore more valuable volunteering opportunities like this, which are beneficial for both the organisation and the individuals involved.
“His Spanish roots also meant we could learn about cultural differences, which was fascinating and enriching in many ways. We’re really thankful to him for the time he spent with us and hope to remain in contact.”