A DEDICATED volunteer at a day centre in Wokingham who has helped for 11 years believes it has improved his mental health.

61-year-old Malcolm Coleman decided to volunteer at the Westmead Day Centre in Wokingham after retiring from a long career in technology due to ill health.

When Mr Coleman’s health started to improve he decided that he needed to put some purpose back into his life.

He said: “After trying a few volunteer roles, I finally settled on a volunteering role at Optalis’ Westmead Day Centre, where I supported people with physical disabilities and long-term health conditions to maintain their independence and wellbeing.

“One bonus of being a volunteer is that I have time to spend talking to customers and assisting them with specific goals.

Malcolm was asked to help create a sensory garden and he worked alongside some of the customers at Westmead to design the garden.

He added: “Once the garden was completed, I organised a team of volunteer gardeners who dedicated many hours to maintaining the garden and customers of the scheme were encouraged to assist.

“The garden was well used and loved by the residents and I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project.”

Kim Davis, Westmead Day service manager believes that volunteers like Malcom make a big difference.

She said: “Malcolm is a joy to be around and he is loved by both staff and customers. He really does make a difference to those who use our day service, and his skills and experience are an asset to our team.

“The roles that volunteers play add great value to Optalis, and we are pleased to be able to offer opportunities to those in our local community.”

Mr Coleman is thankful that volunteering has helped him reshape his life.

He added: “I have always felt that you get as much out of volunteering as you put in. I believe that it has had a huge impact in improving my mental health and given me a focus in life.

“It has led to a lot of other opportunities and I feel privileged to be able to help others, who are always appreciative and an absolute joy to work with.”

For more information about volunteering in the Wokingham area, visit: http://volunteercentrewokingham.org.uk/.