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Broadening horizons through volunteering

21 Jan 2016

The benefits of volunteering, both for an individual’s career development and also mental health, are well documented.  For some, this can take some time and a number of volunteer positions before the right ‘fit’ is made.  For others, the change and opportunities developed can be immediate, with some fantastic results, as Deborah McCready the Volunteer Officer for MindWise and the Together For You project explains:

“I recently met with one of my Together For You volunteers for a guidance and support review.  They have been involved with Together For You since September 2015, during which time they have been in the role of Peer Mentor Activity Volunteer within MindWise Belfast Resource Centre. A core part of their role is to encourage and support service user involvement and independence. Using their past experience in this area gained through work with the YMCA as a Youth Work assistant and experience in Mental Health Residential Centre, they were able to put their skills straight into action.”

“Within a short few months, the volunteer has already helped one of the Community Mental Health Worker’s to develop an 8 week programme for the Men’s Group, aimed at ages 50+ centering around themes such as Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Support. They have also been able to develop positive working relationships with the staff and clients at the MindWise Belfast Resource Centre and now feels there is a real level of trust and honesty.”

As can be seen above, the value volunteers bring to organisations is huge. However there are also lots of benefits to those who give up their time.  This particular volunteer wanted to get more involved in the community and learn even more about mental health in order to broaden their horizons. Deborah continues: 

“When I asked how the volunteering had affected them personally, they commented that it had certainly broadened their understanding of mental health even further through first hand engagement with service users. They found it really rewarding to meet people from different backgrounds and felt very welcomed by all the service users in the Belfast Resource Centre. The volunteer also found it interesting to learn more about the structure of the service and how people were supported.

The volunteer expressed they also had a personal interest in career progression in the area of mental health and the first-hand experience and training through Together For You has been very valuable, along with a great level of staff support for their own personal development. Looking forward, the Volunteer would like to continue volunteering in their current role but would also be interested in broadening their experience further”.

So onwards and upwards for this volunteer.  What about you?

If you have a few hours to spare, and would like to ‘broaden your horizons’ with volunteering, please contact Deborah McCready from MindWise on 028 9031 5060 or email deborah.mccready@mindwisenv.org

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