The previous sections have shown that volunteers move between housing settings, often becoming a conduit for people living with dementia and carers into the wider community. However, this is a two way process and volunteers also become integrated into the longer term networks of those they volunteer with. Volunteers circumvented both formal and informal networks.
Those with dementia and their carers could have very diverse, complex networks. Several people with dementia had discussed their neighbours and friends and we saw the role of volunteers as a ‘bridge’ linking with volunteer perceptions of being a facilitator and conduit within the social networks of carers and those with dementia.
Those with dementia very rarely related to the word volunteer. Volunteers were simply people in their networks. The organisational survey also acknowledged the diverse networks involved in volunteering and that the divisions are unclear between staff, volunteers, carers and people with dementia.
So I befriended a couple and I still do that on a totally private, individual basis every now and then; take old so-and-so out for lunch, because I enjoy their company and it gives them another dimension as well (Female volunteer, Cumbria).
Again we do not see the need to make such a clear division between people suffering from dementia and other disabilities. We consider a family which includes someone with dementia are all affected and we try to provide a bridge between the home and the community where there is support and activities which include all the family and giving them an opportunity for encounters with people with differing challenges. Our cafe tries to extend a family setting so people can feel and be socially included (Organisational Survey)