This week is National Volunteers Week.

My own story is one of ‘falling in’ to volunteering and I hope to show that making a difference is easier than you might imagine.

I am a Technical Officer at Soha Housing spending my days assessing and progressing maintenance of our tenants’ homes.

My Grandad had vascular dementia and was well looked-after by a care home in Didcot; my daughter and I used to visit him and his new friends.

We saw how our visits relieved the professional carers for a few moments and gave the residents a boost – but I would never have called it ‘volunteering’.

Yet when Soha brought in a staff volunteering project to celebrate our housing association’s 20th birthday last year, I thought again.

Soha has pledged up to 10 hours of volunteering time a year to each staff member in addition to the whole volunteering day which we had always been entitled too.

I contacted grandad’s former care home, underwent a pretty rigorous application process and was trained in dementia awareness by The Alzheimer’s Society.

Now – alongside other volunteers – I help their residents take part in activities, crafts and games or sometimes just sit and chat.

At other times I make the teas or do the washing up to give the staff a break.

My daughter comes with me and soon her primary school got involved. They now make visits to read to residents.

A great number of people are involved in offering their support in that particular care setting but each is giving maybe just an hour a week.

Despite that the impact on residents is striking. I have since joined about 60 other Soha staff who have also trained and become a Dementia Friend at work, too.

‘Dementia’ describes symptoms that may include memory loss or language problems and young as well as old can be affected.

Every individual is likely to experience it in differing ways, with different changes in capability or temperament.

A housing provider such as Soha can support tenants with tailored expertise: we have to be very aware of the ‘landscape’ of services to signpost people to as well as be able to put in place practical steps such as spending longer on phone calls or making home visits.

Soha is working towards becoming recognised by The Alzheimer’s Society as a dementia-friendly organisation.

There are dozens of opportunities to volunteer for dozens of organisations, indoor and out, active or otherwise, across Oxfordshire.

I’ve recently started helping out at the local Park Run, as well.

I marshall, walk at the back or clock runners in at the finishing line.

My message would be: if the term ‘volunteering’ sounds like too much of a commitment, think of it instead as a way of getting involved with your community where even the smallest scrap of your time rewards your good cause – and you – disproportionately greatly.

We all have the capacity to make a difference.