A trapped sciatic nerve led me to Orpheus! Not long after I retired I went to see a chiropractor in Redhill to sort out my very painful back. We talked about retirement; having worked for most of my adult life I said I wasn’t at all sure I was going to like it. The chiropractor suggested I contact Orpheus with a view to volunteering. I rang as soon as I got home. That was 12 years ago.

Orpheus is a magical place. People are often puzzled as to why I volunteer, why don’t I get ‘a little job that pays money’? But that’s the point isn’t it, it’s not about the money. I’ve always felt that I get far more out of Orpheus than I put in, which doesn’t feel quite right somehow.

It can be a very daunting experience for our new students when they first join us, new surroundings, new friends to make, new teachers to get to know. I remember Anna who joined in September 2010. She used to come to Reception and sit on the windowsill, crying her heart out. She was so homesick, she wanted to go home. Then the magic started, she blossomed, as all the young people do.  She regularly visited the Receptionists during breaktimes, she was chatty, funny and loved to talk to us about her latest admirers! She left three years later, a confident, happy young woman.

Another firm favourite was Kyle, who was a huge Patrick Swayze fan and was very proud of the leather jacket he wore which apparently was exactly the same as Patrick Swayze’s, and who could forget talented Frankie with her brightly coloured hair and who designed/made her own clothes?

One of the things I like best about what I do is interacting with the parents and families starting with the first telephone call when they ask how to go about applying for a place to building a rapport with them. This sense of involvement makes my role rewarding and interesting.

I don’t know how many young adults have come through the Blue door since Orpheus began but there can be no doubt that their lives have been enriched by the experience – as has mine. Anyway, who couldn’t love an organisation where the therapy dogs have their own ID photos!

If Elinor's brilliant story has inspired you to get involved in volunteering at Orpheus, you can find all you need to know by clicking here!