Julie, a Cloverleaf volunteer in Barnsley shares her story


I have been with Barnsley Advocacy Service since its inception in 2014, after taking early retirement. I initially supported at 1 group session a week - this soon increased to 2.

The first session is now called Wednesday's Voice, supporting people with learning disabilities with planning, shopping and cooking. Members of the group learn how to cook meals and this reduces the need for long-term service support and empowers people to be independent and eat healthily. In addition to this, guest speakers come to the group and I support people to understand the information being provided on such things as safety within the home and hate crime, to name a few. The group also take part in consultations with Health Services, the Local Authority and other service providers.

I also work with a group of people with dementia and their carers, promoting self-advocacy and trying to boost self-esteem and confidence among members. I am currently offering support for the group to explore becoming a social enterprise

I've enjoyed working with both groups - watching individuals grow and develop new skills, particularly increasing their confidence and self-esteem. I have gained the opportunity to continue to use my skills and training in an informal setting. Cloverleaf has also have given me access to several training courses to maintain, update and develop my skills.

In January of this year I became an Associate worker with Cloverleaf and am continuing to work with the 2 groups.