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Meet Connect volunteers

Matthew Mills

My name is Matthew and I have been a music teacher and actor for several years, and my interest in communication has led me to pursue a new career path in speech and language therapy. I attended one of Connect's training days and have since become one of their regular volunteers.

I have been part of the music, men's and befrienders' groups. Most of my volunteering has seen me with the popular weekly music group - set up by Sally McVicker. Here, members bring in their own cds and dvds each session, and select, rate and discuss the musical choices of the day.  There is a team of mainly four volunteers and Sally has trained us in “total communication” which draws on many conversational strategies such as ramps, props, gesturing and drawing and I have learned to create conversations which encourage inclusion and autonomy for Connect's clients. The Music Group has evolved from being a led group by Sally, to a co-facilitated group by adults with aphasia. It has been exciting for me to see how members have taken ownership of the group, and it is my job to support the co-facilitators and be directed by them.

I particularly notice and enjoy the warmth and camaraderie at Connect and the sense of community here. The quality of laughter and sharing which comes from members of the Music Group is a tonic and a privilege to be part of. I have also benefited from feedback and teamwork with co-volunteers and have learned from their experience, and there is useful opportunity to discuss thoughts and feelings about the running of the group with Sally and the co-facilitators. I feel honoured to be a small part of Connect's pioneering and essential work to put aphasia on the map and on the agenda.

To find out more about volunteering at Connect, contact Teresa Regan 020 7367 0876 or email [email protected]

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Matthew with Theresa Kanyere (left), one of the participants in the Music Group