Volunteering and Mental Health; Robert’s Experience

31st May 2021

Our mental Health and wellbeing are becoming ever more a priority within our lives and communities. This is having a great impact across our services and the opportunities for our volunteers to develop their skills.

Volunteering provides a unique opportunity to develop skills and experience. Robert was one of our many volunteers who had existing experience with people and the care sector. Volunteering through Volunteering Barnet helped him to develop his own voice in counselling others who need support after recovering from his own related challenges, and this ultimately motivated him to continue his education in Counselling and Psychotherapy.

“I am a very highly motivated, dedicated, organised and methodical individual. Being a senior professional with 30 years of experience having specialised in both the Facilities Management and Health and Safety fields at the board level, I am very people-focused and an excellent communicator. Having cared for my father, I now wish to pursue a new career path dealing with a topic very close to my heart; Mental Health, and to help others as a counsellor.

After completing my level 1 Introduction to Counselling (BACP), I’m now currently working toward my CPCAB certification (Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body) on a part-time basis whilst still pursuing other courses that support counselling and mental health with the Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE).

Why I wanted to volunteer

As someone who has experienced their own challenges with mental health, I am passionately supportive of others in similar circumstances. I feel a need to help fellow service users through their day-to-day progress which comes in the form of emotional support. Despite my own personal difficulties, I am now stable and am proud to share my recovery journey publicly. I hope this is an inspiration to others to demonstrate that recovery is indeed totally possible.

My volunteering role(s)

I volunteered as a Peer Mentor with the Advocacy Project, became a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) and continued with my personal development to attend the CNWL college​ studying various topics around mental health and support to people via counselling ​(CPD certified courses)​ and carrying out much Self-Reading/Study. Finally, being involved with various charities in several volunteer roles for Barnet Inclusion, HEAR, Peabody Trust, RAF, HESTIA and JVN Charities, helping​ clients to access much needed support, advice, and information both in employment and in daily living​.

Seeing the smile or hearing the happy voice of the Befriendee once we’ve finished talking; to know how grateful they are for that call or that visit, and to know that they feel that I have made a difference to them is incredibly rewarding. This enables me to put my head on the pillow with great delight each night knowing that I have made someone feel happy and content that day, simply by supporting them.

I am so keen to devote my time to helping others to support them and demonstrate my genuine interest in their concerns. I feel I can offer them the support and help they need from my past professional career as well as my current voluntary work. This is especially important when working with vulnerable people and those who are experiencing discrimination as a direct result of their mental health or disability. This is a particular concern within ethnic and minority communities. 

“Volunteering is rewarding, satisfying and life-changing.”

Finding Volunteering Barnet

Volunteering Barnet is a wonderful support and volunteer service, sharing and updating information and news to service users of their latest roles, opportunities, and activities available across the borough within the volunteer sector. 

The most valuable lessons I’ve learned through volunteering are:

To have a fearless approach; to be a volunteer, especially in a new country, requires a lot of courage

  • Have patience
  • Think creatively
  • Show eagerness to take initiative
  • Stay humble about my own work
  • Drive your passion
  • Work as part of a team
  • Demonstrate true understanding and deep empathy

The best things about being a volunteer are:

  • Learning new skills
  • Developing a new understanding of your own capabilities
  • Testing new and alternative endeavours; volunteering gives you the unique opportunity to try out other possible careers and opportunities
  • Meeting new people
  • You can accomplish something different

Based on my own experience I think that volunteering can help you manage your:

  • Stress
  • Mental health
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

My experience in 3 words:

  • Rewarding
  • Satisfying
  • Life-changing”

Thank you Robert for sharing your volunteer experience. If you’d like to explore a new path and would like to start a new volunteering journey, check out our available roles here.

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