Plaxedes Nyamhingura - Age UK

We’ve Got a Friend in Plaxedes – Bolton’s Best Befriender

Counselling student. Community Volunteer. All round legend. Folks in Salford, Bolton, and beyond all get by with a little help from Plaxedes. She told us about her journey through the good, bad, and being on your side forevermore. Cos, that’s what friends are for.

Why Volunteer? 

I wanted to help those in need. I started volunteering as a befriender one and a half years ago. I support three clients in Bolton. They are elderly people. Some are bed bound, some have mental disabilities, and some have depression.

Last year I volunteered for Rafiki, as a peer supporter.

Before I was a church elder in Africa, then in London. I looked after orphans and widows and teenagers. Even in church now, I just want to help. I’ll get into discussions to help people. We pray together over the phone.

Listening, not Rescuing  

Normally, I’m listening to what my clients are saying. I’m being non-judgemental, and genuine, showing that I’m hearing them. I ask how they’re doing, and they talk about their mental health. 

I used to run to rescue instead of listening

Normally at church people ask you to give advice. When you’re speaking to a churchgoer, you’ll ask them, what can I do?

In counselling you listen. When I’m counselling I’m not there to give advice. At first in my studies I had a problem of rescuing.

I have learned to give a client time to grow to make their own decision.

Supporting on the Phone

Since the Covid-19 crisis, I’ve been supporting my clients over the phone.

Even though it's remote, I can still hear their voice, and tell how they’re feeling. Their voices can tell you if they’re feeling well or having any issues

Skills I’ve Gained  

It helps in communication and knowing how to use my listening skills. Listening genuinely and with empathy.

Volunteering widely has helped me relate to different kinds of people. I’ve worked with students, with Rafiki, and in the community, as a befriender.

I’ve learned that everybody has different issues, and I’m here to accept everybody’s needs as they are.   

Why Should Others Volunteer? 

If you give time to volunteer it motivates your spirit. You will have more experiences in different corners.

It helps you understand how to work as a team, you need different people working together. On Rafiki I worked with Jess and Alice, and you get to know how to do management.

A Reference from Josie Throup, Student Opportunities Coordinator (Volunteering)

Plaxedes has shown an immense commitment to helping others throughout her time volunteering at University so far. She has been a dependable volunteer on campus, and in her local community. You can tell that having her there to listen has meant the world to the people she has supported. I know she will be a fantastic counsellor. The world needs more people like Plaxedes!

29th January 2021