spotlight on volunteers - UCLH Friends Trust member and NHNN volunteer, Sheila Saunders

Sheila Saunders has been volunteering with Dancing with Parkinson’s at National Hospital for Neurology since the beginning of 2019. She is a valued member of the group and a passionate advocate for Dancing with Parkinson’s. Here she introduces herself and why she gets involved:


My name is Sheila , and I am a volunteer at the National hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. I have been involved in supporting the dancing with Parkinson's session for a while now.

What I think is important is not just the dancing, but everything that surrounds the programme. When patients arrive to partake in the sessions, they are welcomed warmly by Danielle and her team, offered refreshments and the chance to share and connect with each other. This is so important in a hospital environment which is so often very busy, and there is not enough time to communicate with people. The class helps change the relationship with the hospital environment.

The sessions are a fun and friendly way to encourage people with Parkinson's to engage with movement, which helps their condition. Sometimes during the sessions, a patient might need a helping hand to steady them while moving to the music, and I am there to help if people need me.

I also believe that movement to music is a great way to help with all sorts of medical problems because it is so much fun that you do not think about the challenges you are facing when you are in the class. I have spinal stenosis condition and moving to the music is an easy way to help my body move without too much pressure or expectation.

The dance sessions are done in a group which is very important for mood and self esteem. Everyone feels accepted and this stops any concern with self-consciousness. It is a dance session that is only once a week, but it is very special, and can make such a lot of difference in a short space of time to a person’s wellbeing.

I am also  a member of the UCLH Friends Trust , and firmly believe that projects like this should be encouraged and funded to help all patients. It is a drug free way to help with pain and discomfort, and we at the National Hospital are very lucky to have Danielle and musician Jaka bringing their work directly into the hospital.

The NHS is there for our patients, and Danielle is there for everyone who wants to attend, giving her time and energy into something she firmly believes in. I think that we should embrace this and help support it in any way we can.

To give to the Dancing with Parkinson’s project at National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, you can donate via the Dancing with Parkinson’s fund supported by The National Brain Appeal - use this link for our Just Giving Page to find out more: