A 21-year-old from Bannockburn has ditched the student stereotype and spent his summer break befriending older people in Stirling.
Sam Conway began volunteering at Bield’s Strathallan Court in May, delighting tenants and staff with his natural talent as the development’s newest resident bingo caller.
Eager to gain real world experience after graduating with a degree in Psychology from Abertay University, Sam took on a Social Activities Volunteer position at the Stirlingshire development earlier this year and visits the tenants weekly.
Sam, who also volunteers at a victim support helpline, said: “I knew that I wanted to get some more experience before applying for my Masters so when I came across the position at Strathallan Court, I jumped at the chance.
“I’m really close with my own grandmother but I’m conscious that other older people may not have young people in their life that they can talk to.
“I don’t really think of it as volunteering anymore, I look forward to visiting the development. After the bingo, we’ll sit down and have a chat and a cup of tea.
“I love hearing all the tenant’s stories and telling them all about my own life – they’re always asking about university and what it is that I’m studying.
“I’d urge anyone who is considering volunteering with older people to look into opportunities at Bield developments in their local area. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”
Research shows that intergenerational volunteering can prove beneficial to both young and old people, allowing volunteers to mix with a social group they might not normally interact with while reducing isolation in older people.
Sandra Nicol, Development Manager at Bield’s Strathallan Court, added: “From the moment Sam walked through the door for his interview, I knew he would make a great addition to our volunteer team.
“He is a natural people person and really outgoing – full of laughs and always up for a chit-chat. It’s fair to say he’s proved incredibly popular with the tenants and made a big impact in the short time he’s been here.
“Sam now visits the development once a week to call out the bingo numbers. It’s actually a very stressful role – our tenants take bingo very seriously – but he’s taken to it like a pro.
“There’s one tenant in particular that Sam seems to have made a great bond with. Mr Suttie used to call out the numbers, but since Sam took on the role he’s been able to join in with the games and let his competitive side come through.”
Recently accepting a place on Glasgow Caledonian University’s Forensic Psychology MSc course, Sam plans to continue volunteering when he returns to his studies.
Bield has volunteer positions available throughout its developments, offering young people the chance to gain valuable experience while making a difference to the lives of older people in their local area.