In our latest blog for Volunteers’ Week, Rob Kinning, Chief Executive of Daventry Area Community Transport (DACT) writes about one of their inspiring and dedicated volunteers: Dennis Clayton.
Dennis is an extraordinary and multi-talented volunteer. Shortly after he started volunteering for us following his retirement, Dennis said his eyes had been opened to the “very different world” that existed outside of his previous working environment. He has been totally amazed at the extent of the needs within our community. “I want to treat every day as if I’m going to work” he said, “so I’m available to you as if I’m working full-time.”
Since that day he’s been volunteering with us for 9 years and, true to his word, he volunteers as though this is his full time job! As well as this he often works on weekends in one of his roles as a volunteer minibus driver, taking groups of passengers to many and varied destinations.
Dennis takes on a whole variety of volunteer roles: he is a minibus driver; he cleans and maintains the buses he drives; he is MiDAS Driver Trainer; Chair of Trustees and Vice Chair of the Finance Committee; he drivers for DACT’s car scheme; plans days out for service users; and frequently represents DACT at open day events.
All these are unpaid volunteer roles. In short, he is a full-time (and overtime!) volunteer. I’d also like to share a little bit more of an insight into the specific work that Dennis does and the extraordinary impact it has on our service users:
DACT Days out Planning (Minibus excursions for individuals)
This is a very important new service that began in April 2013, and its major success since then is very largely due to the input of Dennis.
Every 3 months, Dennis produces a quarterly brochure offering between 50 – 60 separate day trips ranging from pub lunches to trips to the coast. Every one of these trips has to be costed, and arrangements made with the venues for meals, bus parking, concessionary group rates for theatre trips or entry to gardens.
This takes an amazing amount of time and effort involving phone calls, research, emails and letters which is very time consuming; the majority of the work is done by Dennis! It would represent a large amount of work even for a paid employee and to think that this is all accomplished whilst he continues to fulfil his other volunteering roles is truly amazing.
These DACT Days Out trips have been very enthusiastically received by out members. Most of them are older people, and these trips provide the means for them to be socially active with all the knock-on benefits of improved health and wellbeing. We receive many commendations for these trips and one that immediately springs to mind is “you have put my life back together!”
His impact on the community:
Dennis is a man of great dedication and self-motivation; he is trustworthy, and utterly reliable. He is passionate about the volunteer work he undertakes, so much so that he is often requested by groups when they make their booking for transport. A phrase often heard is “can we have Dennis as our driver, please?”
Whether it’s taking a senior citizens group for a pub lunch, a trip to a theatre, or a longer trip to London, Dennis does his research to give the group the best experience he can when he goes out with them. He loves to get involved and make their trip as enjoyable as possible.
One group who work with young adults with learning difficulties loved it when Dennis took them to their monthly disco club night. Rather than just drop them off and go back to pick them up later that night, Dennis would join in with them and, through it, better understand how the whole DACT package makes such a positive difference to so many individuals.
He is genuine in his concern for the well-being of all his passengers and is often sign-posting people to other help they might be able to obtain from other organisations.
Success for Dennis is knowing that his passengers have had the best experience they could possibly have whilst on one of his trips. I don’t know anyone who invests so much time voluntarily to make this a reality for each person.
Dennis epitomises just how much our local communities have to be thankful for. He is an inspirational star who doesn’t just talk the talk but who most definitely walks the walk. He is a selfless man who has a big heart and who is positively affecting the lives of so many people in our community.
If you’re interested in volunteering with DACT, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you!
Since this blog was published in June, Dennis has won the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award at the Pride of Northamptonshire Awards as well as the ‘Choice Award’ for the overall winner of the awards! Congratulations to Dennis!