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Article published on: Thursday, 26 May 2022

Volunteers Week takes place 1-7 June every year. It’s a chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you.

This year we’re celebrating by highlighting just a few of our incredible volunteers. In their own words, our volunteers tell us about their roles and why they’ve chosen to give up their valuable time to support Bucks Mind.

Claire, Mind the Gap peer support group volunteer and Befriender, who loves Japanese food and fits volunteering around work and family commitments.

I started volunteering at Mind the Gap, which is Bucks Mind’s support group for those recovering from mental health difficulties, and really enjoyed it. I then began one-to-one Befriending as well.  I wanted to feel like I was doing something constructive with my time beyond the usual work and family commitments.

I have experienced poor mental health at different times in my life, and understand the importance of having the right support and connection with people in order to help weather the storm.  I gain great personal satisfaction in having meaningful conversations with a range of people beyond my usual network of family/friends.  And it’s always nice to feel useful!

I’m a big believer of having structure and a healthy routine in life; especially in times of challenge.  Boring though it may seem, there is such benefit in going to bed on time/ getting up at the same time every day, making time for a walk outside if physically able, and regular mealtimes.

Although not for everyone, I’ve found that having a pet (a British short-haired cat!) is fantastic therapy for me – there is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the sofa with a cosy, purring cat on your knee!

Jamie is a volunteer Befriender who is studying counselling at college and also attends counselling sessions to promote his own mental health wellbeing and better support his Befriendees.

In my role, I see service users (Befriendees) on a one-to-one basis; these meetings take place over the phone or in person, depending on what the individual feels comfortable with. We meet every week, sometimes fortnightly, to talk about whatever the individual chooses to discuss. In addition to that, we also go to social events in the community, either hosted by Bucks Mind or other local centres.

Volunteering for Bucks Mind has been a fantastic experience, one that I will continue with for years to come. I currently study counselling at college, and by volunteering it has benefited me in putting the skills I learn into real world practice. Also, this experience has provided me with strong contacts in the mental health sector who have provided a lot of useful support.

I currently work in an industry that might be considered behind on mental health understanding, I promote mental wellbeing in my workplace through one-to-one monthly meetings with my staff, this gives the team the space to share their needs, ensuring that I, as their manager, can aid them as best I can.

Socially, I talk about mental health with my friends, and have now become a go-to for advice and education.

Clare is a volunteers as a Befriender who changed careers as a result of her positive experience with Bucks Mind. Clare and her husband absolutely love penguins, so much so that they had a penguin themed wedding!

I get paired with someone who has struggled with their mental health and meet them (or speak to them on the phone) every week for six months to help them get their confidence back and also get them back on their feet.

I enjoyed my first partnership so much that I changed my career as a result. I find it so rewarding and there is definitely an element of pride that comes in when the person you are supporting transforms over that time. I also welcome the opportunity for time where I can’t think about my own ‘stuff’ and am just in the moment with the person I am helping.

My wellbeing tip is around relaxing in the evening. I’m a bit of a cliché and love a long soak in the bath as my wind down time before bed. Also, if you are prone to an over-thinking mind like me at bedtime, have something nearby where you can write things down if you need to remember them in the morning but want to get them out of your head so you can go to sleep!

We are so grateful to Claire, Jamie and Clare and all our amazing volunteers. We simply couldn’t do the work that we do without them. Bucks Mind would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to our volunteers for their incredible contribution.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering for Bucks Mind, please click below.

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