King David Primary School pupil Benji Borson is Heathlands Village’s youngest volunteer.
Stopping to chat to other residents along the way, volunteer at The Fed Benjamin Borson shares a funny story and makes them laugh before continuing his journey around the lawn.
There are many volunteers who regularly replicate this familiar scene. The difference? At just five years old, Benji is by far The Fed’s youngest volunteer.
Benji, who visits Heathlands Village regularly to spend time with a special resident, great-grandma Muriel Cobb, has been a familiar face at the Prestwich care home since he was three years old, says grandma Ruth Goodman: “He loves coming here and the residents adore him. He often asks his mum whether he can go to Heathlands, and when he’s here he joins in with whatever he can to help out.”
His school, King David Primary organises school visits to the care home throughout the academic year, with Benji joining the next group in June.
Despite being just a little younger than most members of staff, Benji certainly isn’t shy when it comes to pitching in, with a big heart and personality to match: “I like coming to Heathlands because I like to work,” he says. “I join in at the activity centre with different activities, and I get the residents cups of water if they need – I know how to use the water machine!”
As part of three generations who visit Heathlands Village – together with parents Marc and Georgie, and grandma Ruth – Benji knows his way around the site almost perfectly.
Heathlands Village is viewed by many as a warm, welcoming place for families to spend time, and Ruth couldn’t agree more: “I’m here a lot, and I’m delighted that Benji wants to come with. It doesn’t faze him at all, and he loves spending time with older people.
One of Benji’s earliest memories of activities at Heathlands Village was painting with residents and members of The Fed’s children’s centre. The group were given small garden stones which were painted in a variety of bright colours and patterns to be used in a pirate-themed treasure hunt outdoors. “I was dressed as a pirate!” Benji says, “and we got ice cream afterwards for finding the treasure.”
Asked if there’s anything he can think of that he’d like to organise for residents, Benji was quick to respond: “I think it would be fun to hold a Heathlands disco with me as the DJ!”