Our volunteers cover a range of vital roles in Richmond Fellowship. Georgia, a Peer Mentor, tells us a little bit about her time as a volunteer.
A day in the life of a Peer Mentor at Richmond Fellowship
Hi I’m Georgie and I’m a Peer Mentor for Richmond Fellowship at our Hammersmith and Fulham Employment and Wellbeing Service. There is a team of Peer Mentors all running different types of groups. I was offered the opportunity to facilitate group sessions for two hours on Wednesdays. Just like the people in the group, I have been through mental health challenges of my own and this experience helps me to connect with the people we support. The others run a Mindfulness group and another does Yoga; we hold groups in pairs or as a team.
I have been through mental health challenges of my own and this experience helps me to connect with the people we support.
On the weekend, I like to think about the next session and research the topic. For each one I like to have a topic which sparks conversation and reflection in the group. I’ll find handouts and make notes. On my journey to White City I read my notes and get my thoughts in order. Then when I arrive, I set out chairs in a circle and prepare my notes. The group arrives in dribs and drabs and I’m always so pleased to see everyone. I’m delighted that they keep showing up.
I start each session with some games. Then we chat about our week and I’ll outline the session plan. Sometimes the group wants to focus on something different or one topic takes up the whole time as we get very deep into a discussion. I have to be flexible and sensitive to both the group dynamic and individuals to make sure everyone has the opportunity to contribute. I also lookout for anyone who is getting uncomfortable; it can be challenging but I always have some games on standby to lighten the mood. The goal of these games is always to promote group cohesion and fun. We all get to have a bit of a giggle!
Sometimes I may self-disclose about the topic we are discussing but this is not necessary for Peer Mentors. For example, if we are discussing responses to anxiety I will share with the group my challenges and what I did to manage them. This encourages others to feel comfortable sharing their own successes or difficulties with the group.
Time is always up far too soon. I give out proactive tasks each week. It can be anything, from observing negative thoughts for the week to sourcing a positive affirmation that they can share with the group next time. They don’t always do it, but I keep on trying!
I get plenty of support from the Wellbeing team and the Peer Mentor Coordinator. They look after my wellbeing and make sure I’m comfortable running my group. I can raise any concerns I have and the team are always available to help me.
When the people we support tell me that what we are doing has really helped or that they really enjoyed the session, it absolutely makes my day.
When the people we support tell me that what we are doing has really helped or that they really enjoyed the session, it absolutely makes my day. There is no doubt that this is the highlight of my week and I have grown so much from this experience. Through my efforts to aid others in their self-awareness, self-empowerment and routes to recovery, I have been encouraged to also focus on my own growth. Every person we support is wonderful in their own way and the care they give each other, despite the challenges they face, is truly inspiring!