All this week we’re shining the spotlight on what it’s like volunteering for our charity partners across Recovery Focus as part of Volunteers Week 2022.
Steve, a Volunteer at one of our Richmond Fellowship services, explains how volunteering has helped him.
"I’ve been involved with Richmond Fellowship for a good few years, going back to when it was previously run by 'Mental Health Matters' so I’ve seen many changes.
I had been referred to their employment support scheme by the Job Centre and was then invited to attend a drop-in. I’ve got to know people over a long period of time which has helped me to build up trust and feel safe there.
Becoming a volunteer seemed a natural progression and was something I had often thought about. I found that I enjoyed helping out when I could and got a lot of satisfaction in seeing others grow in confidence and come out of their shell. This was something I could really identify with as it was difficult for me at first to talk to new people when they joined the groups and drop-ins. I found that it gave me a positive focus, something to think about other than my struggles with PTSD, anxiety and depression. It also gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
A bit like riding a bike, I kept on getting back in the saddle, not that I talk about cycling much, honest(!) As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and I feel I am much more confident and at ease in this role now.
Some people may find the sense of responsibility in being a volunteer a bit daunting but for me it was a motivating factor. I didn’t let the negative thoughts take hold or convince me not to go out or do anything because others were relying on me and I didn’t want to let them down. I had a duty so could finally win that battle!
Being a volunteer has broadened my horizons and prevented me from getting stuck in my own world. I’ve made new friends, been well supported by the team and learnt a lot.
Listening to other people’s experiences has enabled me to see things from different perspectives. I don’t think this would have happened otherwise. My volunteering role began with joining the Castleford walk on a Friday morning and I’ve been doing it ever since. This progressed with attending the drop-in there and also supporting a Thursday walk.
It’s very rewarding when you feel you’ve made a difference and if I was to advise someone thinking about becoming a volunteer I’d say ‘put your toe in the water’ and give it a try.
You may already know some of the team and so it would only a small step forward in a safe and positive environment. I highly recommend it".