27th March 2022, 7:30
Posted: 28th May 2021
From Volunteer to Employee - read Gavin's story
Gavin has just joined the York Mind team in his new role as the Administrator in our busy activities service. We had a catch up with him to find out how he first came to York Mind for support then joined as a volunteer and ended up taking on this exciting role.
"I returned to York Mind in March 2020 having previously accessed the services some 10 years prior and contacted one of the services to see if I could volunteer. Unfortunately one week after agreeing to volunteer in the York Mind office, lockdown struck and I was advised to shield so volunteering stopped before it had even started.
Having spent the previous 9 months dealing with my mother’s mental health illness which unfortunately led to her taking her own life, it made me realise I needed to do something to help my own mental health or I could spiral down in isolation.
So I decided to access the Activities service and register for a number of their free groups. I started in a few groups including: Peer Support and Creative Writing, but soon progressed to a number of other groups during the spring of 2020 and decided this was my saviour in lockdown isolation.
Eventually in September, after exhausting most of the groups that were available, I decided it was time to give something back to York Mind and specifically the Activities Team.
So I decided to apply to volunteer 3 days per week and working with Jamie and Oliver, soon found, that even though I was on Zoom and locked indoors, I felt like I was back out being part of the world of work and seeing new faces again.
My volunteer role was to support the team in processing of enrollment forms for clients, speaking to the wonderful people who were contacting the team for help and assistance and using my experience of groups to help others understand show how activity groups could help them. Giving reassurance to people and just being there to talk things through, whilst explaining what the different activities and how they could help, was the start of me feeling i had a purpose and useful again. Volunteering became my road to recovery.
Joining in with the different activities and seeing the clients on Zoom felt great and speaking to friendly faces so they could put a face to the name rather than just being a voice on the phone was super.
Eventually I decided that I wanted to progress with being part pf York Mind. I had gained enough confidence to take the plunge back into employment and when the opportunity came up to become the Activities Administrator I could not miss out on joining a amazing organisation and a department I was now part of that was continuing to help the wonderful clients.
Without accessing the activities in spring 2020 as a participant, when I realised my mental health was starting to spiral (due to lockdown, isolation and concern over Covid) I am not sure where I would be today .
Volunteering has given me a purpose in life. I would recommend it to anyone, no matter how many hours it is a week/month or year you can offer, I feel volunteering gives you a sense of fulfillment, achievement and realisation that you are not just helping other people, but helping yourself by keeping busy, interacting with different people and supporting a wonderful charity that provides help for people who are in need and may be struggling to find the help they need."
Here at York Mind we are very pleased the Gavin has progressed from volunteering into a paid role as part of our activities team.
To find out about our current volunteering opportunities click here
To find about how to get involved with our activities programme click here