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Inspirational Care Home Volunteer Challenging Misconceptions Surrounding Down Syndrome

Residents and staff at The Beeches Residential Care Home in Birmingham have thanked dedicated volunteer, Zoe James, who was born with Down Syndrome, for her unwavering support over the last five years.

Since 2018, Zoe, who is 28 years old has volunteered at the not-for-profit Sanctuary Care home, which provides residential, dementia and respite care for elderly residents.

Three days a week, Zoe supports with a host of activities in the home, from tea making, cake competitions, person-centred activities to arts and crafts. She even gives up her time on Christmas Day to take part in festivities with the residents.

Zoe James pictured with mum, Debbie James

Through her accomplishments, Zoe is challenging the perception that people with a learning disability cannot do certain things and has become a much-loved member of the team. The residents can’t wait to see her and talk about how warm and welcoming she is.

Ada Pearson, age 97 years, who lives in The Beeches Residential Care Home, said: “Zoe is just lovely; she always greets us with a big cuddle and helps out around the home. She even paints my nails for me!”

The volunteering scheme at Sanctuary Care is part of the care provider’s commitment to enrich their residents’ lives, ensuring they feel content, happy and fulfilled. It also offers members of the community the taste of a career in care while building up their skills and confidence.

Debbie James, Zoe’s mum, commented:

“Volunteering has changed Zoe’s life. She has always been really caring, but before she would shy away from people. Since joining Sanctuary Care, she has flourished. She makes her own decisions, speaks to people in the street, and is much more confident – it’s been fantastic to see.”

Michelle Pilgrim, the Sanctuary Care Home Manager added:  

“Zoe is a bundle of joy to have in our home; she’s caring, enthusiastic, and attentive. Our team, who feel more like a family, are devoted to enriching the lives of our residents, their families, and the community. Zoe’s selflessness, hard work and dedication over the last five years is a shining example of this. We can’t thank her enough. She is an inspiration!”

The care home provider would like to welcome more volunteers from the local community to support with a range of flexible volunteering and work experience placements, from befriending and gardening to driving and clerical support.

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