10 years ago, I felt worthless. I had no purpose in my life. My life was made up of daily visits from carers, weekly doctor appointments, and frequent hospital admissions.
10 years ago, the Community Matron suggested to me that I try some volunteering with Volunteering in Health. It took some convincing, but I decided to give it a go, taking calls on the busy transport desk and helping people get to their medical appointments. I have built up my confidence and gained a sense of purpose. I have made lifelong friends and now feel a strong sense of community and belonging. I’ve learned lots of new skills, particularly how to use a computer and even giving presentations to large audience – both things that terrified me and were hugely outside of my comfort zone. In December I even went for a sunrise swim in the sea!! I have never looked back.
Our volunteer drivers take around 50 people to and from their medical appointments each week. They stay with them for the duration of their appointment, supporting them through what can be an anxious wait and after their appointment when they may be digesting difficult news. Throughout the pandemic of course there have been fewer medical appointments, so many of our drivers have been ringing their regulars every week to check in with them instead. More recently, our drivers have been supporting clients to get their Covid vaccinations.
10 years on, I am now a paid employee with Volunteering in Health. 10 years ago, this would have been absolutely unimaginable for me and I still pinch myself some days!
Before the pandemic I was helping to run the HOPE Course (Help Overcome Problems Effectively) which has taken a significant break but we are looking forward to its return as soon as it is safe. Now my role is to provide ongoing support to people who have been through the HOPE course and/or Wellbeing Programme. I help people keep working towards the goals that they have set for themselves and to adjust them if needed, and I identify people who need additional support and refer them straight back into additional services as soon as they need them.
I have gained so much from my personal experience of volunteering, and from attending the HOPE course myself. 10 years on, I am a new person. I’m confident, I take on challenges and embrace change, I am positive and grateful for my life. I feel valued and respected. I have a sense of purpose. I am part of a community of friends and colleagues. Volunteering has given me so much more than I can give it and I recommend that everyone gives it a go. You can find out more about volunteering with Volunteering in Health here.
In 2021 I have taken on a computer course to continue to build my confidence with this, and I am planning to train to become a HOPE facilitator. If you would like some support setting goals for yourself to help you take control of your own health and wellbeing, please get in touch to find out how our team can help you.