Volunteers’ Week (1st-7th June) is a celebration of the work that volunteers do and an encouragement to more of us to volunteer. Touchstone has a strong base of volunteers involved in our work and we offer support and training to make the volunteering experience as productive and enjoyable as possible. To celebrate Volunteers’ Week, we’re publishing stories of past and present volunteers.
I was at a stage where I wanted to do something different and get back into employment. I had wanted to volunteer in a mental health service, so when Googling :
Touchstone came up.
My application was successful and I was called in for an interview. I was really nervous and did not know what to accept and whether I would be able to answer all the questions.
I was overwhelmingly surprised as I was made to feel welcome and felt really comfortable in my surroundings. I was encouraged to explore and think about myself and my skills and where I felt I was at in terms of my development. I even surprised myself. By the time I finished in the interview I felt like a confident women and eager to learn and develop myself as an individual.
The volunteer training I received was invaluable and helped me to focus around what volunteering is. I explored my hopes and fears of volunteering and reflected on why I made certain decisions, understanding mental health in its many forms alongside looking after my own mental health and wellbeing, The training also enabled me to understand Touchstone as an organisation and its policies.
After training I volunteered in two placements one with the Community Developement Team (CDS) , supporting CDS with suicide and self harm packs and the other with the Support Centre, supporting the Drop In and Women’s Group. Both my volunteering roles were very rewarding. I worked closely with members of staff at Touchstone as well as other agencies.
I was provided with the opportunity to be in a large group setting with people of different backgrounds and cultures. My personal development was taken care of and I was able to learn new skills and work in a group setting, and then one to one with a service user. I was able to access and learnt about many new community services which I did not know about before.
I encouraged my service users to also apply for Touchstone Volunteers programme as I had such a good experience and learnt many knew things and became the confident role model they had in front of them. Both of my Service users are now in the process of volunteering with Touchstone.
A job came up with dial house and I applied. As I always wanted to get a job, I was encouraged to apply for this post and other jobs by the Volunteer’s Project. I was able to speak about my experience at Touchstone and the skills I had learnt. I was successful and got the job.
I do miss volunteering at Touchtone; it had become a regular routine.
I am a different person now, than the one who was in two minds of attending the Volunteer’s Project interview. I am now in employment, learnt many new skills, feel confident, happy and highly recommend Touchstone ‘s Volunteer Project.
If I am asked now, would you volunteer? I would say definitely yes.