One of our brilliant volunteers explains how and why she got involved and the benefits that volunteering has had for her.

Before I started my volunteering with Touchstone I just had my son and was unemployed and unaware of the direction I wanted to go in life. I lacked so much confidence due to having no academic qualifications and past experiences.  I really did not know what I wanted to do.
I got involved with Touchstone through my local children’s centre. I applied to Touchstone’s Volunteers Project service without knowing much about the project.  I was encouraged to apply by the coordinator of the centre.
I was shocked to receive a call for an interview.  As the day of the interview came I felt I wouldn’t be able to attend as I had childcare needs and did not have anyone to leave my son with and felt I may not be able to volunteer.  The worker was very understanding and innovative, she rearranged things for me and I had an interview with my son at the local children’s centre.  If I was not able to have my son with me on the day of my interview, I may not have considered volunteering and may not have come this far now in my own development. I felt reassured, inspired and encouraged to volunteer as the benefits of volunteering were what I needed at this particular time in my life.  Due to my past I felt I may be judged and may not be offered a volunteer role; this was not the case.  Everyone was non-judgemental and very supportive.
I am a new person. I have positively turned my life around; I have confidence and believe in myself. I have gained a lot of life experience through my volunteer role.  I currently volunteer for a day a week, half a day at PAFRAS (Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and half a day befriending two service users as part of Positive Pathways’ Peer Support and Befriending Service.  I provide emotional support as well as finding solutions to practical needs.
As part of my volunteer role I was provided with opportunities to get involved and further develop my skills.  For example: attending various meetings with professionals; service user assessments; being involved with wider Touchstone services; opportunities to learn new things and attending internal training.   I feel very much appreciated and my support is always valued.
Alongside volunteering I have completed a Health and Social Care BTEC Level Two distinction course at college.  I am very proud of my achievement and am now a very confident person and wish to apply for a university course. This time last year the thought of university wouldn’t have crossed my mind and since volunteering I believe in myself and I know I will be successful at university.