Rivendell Work Experience Program – Inner West Neighbour Aid

Written by B.C.

I volunteer for the Inner West Neighbour Aid organisation every week. IWNA is a community organisation that provides services such as home maintenance and social support for the elderly. This is with the aim to help them stay independent and live in their own homes for as long as possible.

Part of being a volunteer means I get to meet up at a different client’s house every Wednesday, with two teachers and two students from my school as well as an IWNA worker. We are introduced to the client by the IWNA worker Roman, then we proceed to do various garden maintenance tasks, such as weeding, trimming and clipping.

One of the highlights on the first job was the client, Valerie, telling us how her cat has been toilet trained, quite literally. Valerie’s grandson had trained the cat to climb up on to the human toilet to do its business. We were even shown photographic proof!

For morning tea, Valerie gave us some of her homemade pikelets. As we were eating them, the cat repeatedly attempted to jump up onto the table and eat the pikelets – although she was not successful. The only way to stop the cat from trying to grab them was to lock her in the house!

The second garden was a lot bigger than I had expected. When we arrived, I was quite overwhelmed by the scale of the grounds. It was a large backyard with many plants, trees and bushes and it was pretty overgrown. The first job I completed was trimming various bushes in the client’s backyard, using manual clippers. After this, I proceeded to weed the garden beds. This was easy as the weeds’ roots did not go down very deep and the soil was quite sandy. Doing this was quite satisfying and it was for a good purpose as these jobs would be difficult for the clients, due to their age.

I found the first job more rewarding and fun, mainly because we talked to the client, Valerie, quite a lot and built a good relationship with her. Valerie’s stories were especially fascinating. She enjoyed chatting and sharing her stories with us.

I felt like I was contributing and learning more about the local community by doing these jobs. I would definitely recommend this program to other students as I think they would find it very enjoyable, satisfying and entertaining.