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Volunteers Week 2022: What Being A Peer Support Volunteer Coordinator Means To Me

Our Volunteer Coordinators play a vital role in supporting those who volunteer their time to help the people we support.

As part of Volunteers Week 2022 across the Recovery Focus group of charities, Judith, Peer Support Volunteer Coordinator at Richmond Fellowship’s Wakefield service explains what the role means to her.

“I feel truly privileged to work in this role, as our volunteers are such a core feature of the support we provide here at Richmond Fellowship’s Gaslight service in Wakefield.

We are a community-based service and run several groups and drop-ins which are well attended by our members. These could not function without our amazing team of volunteers, and it is my job to recruit, train up, supervise and support.

It is really rewarding and satisfying to see someone grow in confidence and develop their skills as they become part of the volunteer team, sometimes achieving things they never thought possible. It may have started with a tentative enquiry and then an informal chat about what is involved; or it may be someone who has progressed through our 12 week 1:1 support programme and this is the next step on their recovery journey.

I match up volunteers with activities / hobbies they are interested in and if we don’t have a group that fits then we can start a new one – nothing is off limits, you just need to be creative!

Our quarterly newsletter grew out of looking at options to keep busy and engaged through lockdown and now it is a regular feature. I love the variety and challenge of this role and no two days are ever the same.

Since becoming Peer Volunteer Co-ordinator, three volunteers have returned to employment and while we never like to say goodbye, seeing them find their feet and believe in themselves again is both an encouragement and an inspiration. I am very proud to tell you that one of our volunteers recently applied for the job of Community Link Worker and we are now looking forward to welcoming him on board as a fully fledged member of staff!”

Inspired? Check out our latest vacancies today by clicking here.

Volunteers Week 2022: What Volunteering Means To Me

All this week we’re shining the spotlight on what it’s like volunteering for Richmond Fellowship as part of Volunteers Week 2022 across the Recovery Focus group of charities.

Steve, a Volunteer at one of our Northern services, has written this blog explaining 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”.

Inspired? Found out more about volunteering at Richmond Fellowship here.