Dennis joined the BA Advocacy programme in 2020 and had a varied career prior to retirement, working as an Independent Professional Advocate in the Children’s sector.
He said: “It was a job I thoroughly enjoyed, especially the privilege of watching young people in care take charge of their lives and become self-advocates and speak up for themselves.”
During his time at UWTSD, Dennis undertook voluntary work as a befriender for Age Cymru, and through this connection after graduating, he now leads on their HOPE Project in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire recruiting volunteer advocates and clients.
The HOPE (Helping others participate and engage) project delivers advocacy support for older people and carers across Wales through a range of advocacy models by recruiting and training and supporting project volunteers. The project aims to support people at an early stage in their issues or concerns preventing them slipping into crisis.
Dennis said: “HOPE project with Age Cymru, gives me the chance to learn about helping those over 55 years of age in the community. Engaging with those in need before they get to a crisis stage and require fully professional advocacy. I am an expert on children’s advocacy but am learning about advocacy for older people.
“My role is to recruit, guide, train, coach and encourage volunteers, to become Independent, volunteer advocates. I work with them, helping clients or their carers who have a need for advocacy assistance. So that they achieve the best possible outcomes. Everything is client led in respect of their views, wishes and feelings.”
Prior to joining UWTSD, Dennis had an NVQ qualification, but he wanted to continue his learning journey and enrolled on the Advocacy degree course at the University’s Carmarthen campus.
He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole course, especially the open, transparent discussions and range of opinions from the outstanding lecturers and colleagues on the course. The arguments, discussions and points of view were excellent.
“All the lecturers were very patient with someone who was not academic and who had last written an essay 55 years ago. There were no barriers for me at all. The Humanities team went out of their way to make us all welcome. It was hard work but well worth the effort. I was undoubtedly the oldest on the course.”
UWTSD Advocacy Programme Manager Ken Dicks said:
“As a mature student, Dennis brought a wealth of experience to his studies on the BA Advocacy course and continued to develop his skills and understanding by volunteering alongside his academic studies. His post with Age Cymru allows him to utilise the knowledge gained during his studies to support other members of his community.”