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Julie and Dennis

Photo of Julie and Dennis

If you receive your SRSB/RSS newsletter by post there is a very good chance it will be Julie or Dennis who will have put it in the envelope. The married couple have been a key part of the volunteer team at the charity for over 10 years, and helping with the mailing is just one of the many ways they support its work.

Jane Peach our Marketing Manager already knew Julie and Dennis and what dedicated volunteers they were, and she showed them around the Mappin Street building back in 2011 as they were interested in finding out more about SRSB.

The two of them were impressed not only with the purpose-built facilities (Julie was quite astonished to learn there was actually a toilet for guide dogs), but also with the extent of the support and help available to clients and all the activities on offer.

They had already volunteered with other charities and at sporting events but had  never been so closely involved with clients and had no experience of helping people with visual impairment.

“We had to have quite a bit of training in working with and understanding the requirements of people who are partially sighted or blind and we realised the challenges they face. It was a different experience and a different satisfaction for us.” said Dennis.

Over the years they have worked on a whole range of activities and events for SRSB/RSS. Sometimes behind the scenes in the office often working with clients and the public at everything from Golf Days to Gin tasting evenings, from Breakfast With Santa to special events.

“It’s been rewarding and satisfying and we have learned a lot. We get a lot of help and support and know how much we are appreciated. We have met so many clients and seen how they have had to adapt to challenges,” said Julie. “They are so appreciative of the help and support that we and other volunteers provide”

“The staff that we work with are never patronising to us as volunteers and are always so friendly. We feel like part of a team, and very valued. It’s like a family, and we are part of it.”

The couple say they enjoy volunteering for SRSB/RSS in particular because they are always kept informed about how much money the events they have helped with have raised and they see how the money is used directly to benefit local people. They feel their efforts are well spent.

They’re so dedicated to helping the charity that they put events for the whole year in their diaries in January although they like the fact that most of their duties are ad hoc and not a commitment to a particular day each week.

“There are a few perks too, when we are invited to volunteer at different events and get involved with important people in the city. We almost feel like part of the staff now, in fact we have been volunteering here for so long there some staff who haven’t been here for as long as we have,” said Dennis, “One of my high spots with SRSB was being at the top of Bramall Lane stand on the Zip Wire and also being on the pitch there in the Ellie mascot costume!”

The couple also volunteer elsewhere, mainly at sporting events drawing on Julie’s career experience as a PE teacher, and Dennis’ senior position within the City Council’s Recreation Department, where he worked on the World Student Games in Sheffield. They’ve already been booked to help at the UEFA Women’s Euro 22 and the Rugby League World Cup.

But SRSB/RSS clearly does have a special place in their hearts. Julie and Dennis’ generosity with their times is very much valued and appreciated in a way that no-one could put a price on. 

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