Somewhere to turn - a day in the life of a volunteer

SECE Mind could not run in the way that it does without the help of its dedicated volunteers, they all work in different areas of the charity but here is a made up example of what one of our volunteers do. A day In the life… Arriving 5 minutes before my shift, I know that it’s going to be a busy and as always I’m bound to learn something new about mental health, I always do. I sip my coffee, and take a few big deep breaths in, and long slow breaths out. It’s my little mindfulness ritual that helps me feel centred and ready for the day ahead. First I check the voicemail system to listen to all the messages that were left out of hours. I take down all the details so that they can be called back. As the day gets going, I will be taking calls, replying to emails, and helping people that drop into the centre. There is always something different to deal with, it makes it interesting and keeps me on my toes. Some of the calls are from family members that want help on the behalf of someone else. Se get calls from people that want to know what their rights are with regards to their mental health and their employers. Some people need help navigating the complicated benefits system. Sometimes the calls might be challenging like someone who is feeling suicidal. We have to make careful considerations about the risk the person is in, but we do not have to do this alone, and I’m part of a very supportive team. We are trained for many different situations and are also counselled so we can process our experiences.

After we have seen or spoken to someone, we like to follow up with their situation. A typical call might go like this:

David rang in, he has been experiencing anxiety and it’s felt overwhelming. Talking about his mental health is new for him, and he feels slightly nervous, he doesn’t know what to do or who to go with this issue. It great to be able to reassure him and make him feel safe to talk. I advised him to go and see his GP and find out what options they could provide him with. I also told him about all the services that we have at SECE Mind, like counselling, psychoeducational groups and peer to peer support, amongst others. It was great to be able to follow up with David two weeks later, he had gone to his GP and had started with some short-term medication, he had also booked his first assessment for counselling with us. He was feeling really pleased that he had decided to call us, and was very thankful for us helping him take the first steps to getting more support. It left me feeling great that I could be part of the process of helping him. As I arrive for another day, with my coffee in hand and ready to take my deep breaths I don’t know what today will bring. What I do know is that volunteering makes a real difference to peoples lives, mine included. It has given me new skills and confidence, I’ve made friends and have a great supportive team behind me. If you want to see more of the work that we do at SECE Mind follow us on social media on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and if you want to find out more about volunteering then contact us.

South East and Central Essex Mind, 112a Southchurch Road

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2LX

Charity registration number 1148451