My name is Rhys Donnelly and I live in Glasgow. I started volunteering for the Stroke Association in July 2019. I recently completed a Forensic Psychobiology degree from the University of Abertay, Dundee and have secured a place on the MSc Clinical Health Psychology programme at the University of Strathclyde. I’m aiming to pursue a career in Clinical Neuropsychology with a special focus on stroke and dementia and am currently volunteering with the Stroke Association in Scotland. I volunteer to give back to the community and gain hands-on experience in communicating with people affected by stroke to help prepare me for my future career.
I started my volunteering journey with the Stroke Association in Scotland as a group secretary with the Glasgow Speakability Aphasia self-help group. I support the group with secretarial duties as well as being an active participant at the group’s meetings and outings. I find this role to be very rewarding as it gives me the opportunity to support people facing the daunting task of returning to their lives with a communication disability but it also allows me to hear about every member’s individual triumphs and improvements. The group gives members a place to be with others facing similar issues to them and enjoy discussions and activities. Furthermore, this role has given me a much deeper understanding of how aphasia can impact someone’s life in ways which are usually not thought about.
In addition to this role I then began a second role as a My Stroke Guide Buddy in August to promote the Stroke Association’s online resource ‘My Stroke Guide’ in hospitals and community settings. Through this role I have the pleasure to demonstrate the guide to patients, family and friends and showing them what information is available and how straightforward the guide is to use.
My role as a My Stroke Guide Buddy is very satisfying as I feel that the response so far from the people affected by stroke has been extremely positive. This role has allowed me to speak to people at a very stressful and difficult time in their lives and in some ways provide a little bit of hope that they are not alone in this journey and there are people who can help them rebuild their life after stroke.