Volunteering and Me
Author: Danny Daniels – VOICES Peer Mentor
I first thought about volunteering when I was in the resettlement stage of rehab. My partner at the time was also volunteering but I never really understood what they got from it, or anyone else that volunteered either.
I used to think to myself ‘ooh that’s nice of them’, I always thought that people who volunteered where those who didn’t need to work and had plenty of spare time on their hands.
I started volunteering twelve months ago and since then my perception of why people volunteer has completely changed. Now I have achieved tangible things such as my level two ITC qualification and a level three peer mentor qualification. I not only have a developed a real in-depth knowledge of the issues faced by people experiencing multiple and complex needs but I have maintained my professional development and insight into services.
On a personal level my confidence and self-belief has doubled and I have hope in people being able to succeed in their recovery. I am able to use my lived experience. I have learned to use my experiences from a negative place and use them in a positive way.
I can now see myself being employed, which is something I never thought I could do again. I know I have something to offer and it will be supporting people with a range of different personal needs.
My advice to anyone who wanted to volunteer would be to try it before you knock it. I have gained so much self-awareness from being involved in several different activities which include peer mentoring, research, attending conferences and community events. I guess it’s what people in paid employment would call ‘job satisfaction’ which I think is the best way to describe it.
My perception of volunteering is now completely different from it was before, I am now seeing this from the other side of the desk. I can connect with people in so many different ways. I am the same person I was before. The only difference is I now know more about what I am good at and what I can do and how I can help others.