Physiotherapist Marta Newman shares how volunteering at The Cottage in Rushcutters Bay has helped her see the value in talking and listening.

“I moved from Chicago to Sydney seven months ago with my partner.

I’m a qualified physiotherapist but finding a job wasn’t easy – so I started researching volunteering opportunities.

I wanted a chance to give back, just as I did in my home city – especially since I’d been given such a great opportunity in living here.

So about three months ago I started volunteering at The Cottage after lots of internet searching for the right role.

In Chicago I worked with elderly people and really enjoyed it – so I was keen to do something similar in Australia.

I really like the set-up at The Cottage – it’s friendly and family orientated.

I go there twice a week for about four hours each time and we have a morning coffee or tea, engage with our clients, and socialise with the people there. We make them feel important and needed.

We serve lunches and sometimes we go for a walk.

Because of my physiotherapy background I try and implement little exercises – moving the arms, playing games, and working with other people in a group.

It’s a social, friendly environment, and I love to talk with people and listen to them.

The Cottage provides a chance to be heard. The work is really rewarding. I would say I feel needed there. I think it’s a mutual thing.

I’m enjoying it and the people there enjoy it.

I also like photography, and with permission I take pictures of the clients during our walks. I also learn a lot about behavioural issues and I’ve come to understand more about dementia.

I have done an Understanding Dementia course through the University of Tasmania, and it seems like most people know someone who has dementia.

It makes a difference just to make that connection and spend time in good company.”

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