BAB Voices: Dean, Age UK Bristol Volunteer and BAB Community Researcher
Dean is a retired engineer who enjoys getting involved with communities

We sat down with Dean, 61, who regularly volunteers with our lead partner Age UK Bristol, and is also part of the Bristol Ageing Better community researcher’s team. Dean is a retired engineer who enjoys getting involved with communities and putting his skills to good use helping others. 

When did you start volunteering with Age UK Bristol, and why did you decided to volunteer with them? 

I started volunteering as part of the Information and advice team about 5 or 6 years ago. I've done some counselling courses and I felt that I had useful skills for dealing with some of the difficult issues that the clients might bring. I thought it would be very interesting and worthwhile to help older people get some of these complex issues sorted out. 

Dean - Community Researcher

And what do you like the most about volunteering with Age UK Bristol? 

I really enjoy working in a team. Some of the subject matters are so complicated, and ?I like that it gives me a challenge to learn new things, but I also feel very well supported by other colleagues and my duty manager. I feel I can take on challenges which might be a bit daunting if I were doing them on my own. Also, I enjoy finding ways through client’s problems, and coming up with solutions to help them feel much better about their situations, this is is very gratifying. Age UK Bristol it’s fantastic organisation to work for, just great people. 

Tell us a little bit about your role as a community researches, how did you come about the role and what interested you about it? 

I was looking to expand my volunteering, and I thought ‘oh, that might be interesting’. Community research it’s a great opportunity to find out more about what’s going on in the city. And I'm quite an analytical and logical thinking person, so I like the idea of using these skills and what I've learned through the counselling for this purpose. 

Hands holding a map

 Asset mapping provides information about the strengths and resources of a community and can help uncover solutions. Once community strengths and resources are inventoried and depicted in a map, you can more easily think about how to build on these assets to address community needs and improve health. 

Could you tell us about the process of becoming a community researcher, what kind of training you've been provided, and how does that process happen? 

We started off having regular meetings as community researchers, talking about what community research is, and how difficult it is to get objective research, because we've all got our own experiences that can bias us into how we ask questions. So we did some fairly informal training on how would you raise questions and how would you interpret the results, and how would you use those results.Some of the more specific things like asset mapping we had some external person provide a day of training on that, so that helped us understand what asset mapping is about. 

Of all the things?you've?learned so far as a community researcher, which one would you say is the most interesting? 

I think it’s probably double edged, it’s both getting a good understanding of what’s available in the community, and also understanding how people might have problems getting access to some of the services that they might benefit from. I'm always interested in knowing more about the community. 

[Photo Community Researchers Mini Ad] Caption: We are currently looking for new volunteers to join this wonderful team. If you are interested please contact Bianca on or on 0117 928 1539. 

The community researchers team are about to finish a big piece of work in Greater Fishponds, can you tell me a little about how that has happened and what is going to come out of it? 

We've been working in the area doing asset mapping, and we are running a focus group which encourages service users to come along and tell us what is good and what is not good about the area. The planned outcome is to have a whole compilation of assets for Greater Fishponds, which we can handover to the partners that will get commissioned to deliver services in Greater Fishponds, so they would have a good base to work from to try to understand what needs to improve, and how people might connect to the various services that are available. 

Why should anyone become a community researcher, how would you promote the opportunity to others in your community?? 

I would say if you like working, if you like team work, you are interested in your community or the communities within Bristol, and want to keep yourself mentally active, it’s a great opportunity to tick all those boxes. 


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