Paul – Befriending service volunteer

I’d suffered my own mental health crisis which I received counselling for and wanted to find out what I could do to help others once the dust had settled. I’d never been offered Mind as a source of help when I was having my problems and the more I read about them the more I liked.

There were several areas of volunteering I was interested in as friends and family always said I’m very compassionate and a great listener, a go-to guy if you needed a shoulder to cry on. I’m also a fairly non-judgmental person, so I gave Coventry and Warwickshire Mind a call and began the process.

The training was excellent and gave a real insight into a world I’d never looked into before. The myths and perceptions of certain mental health issues was a real eye opener. The way certain illnesses are portrayed in the media, film and TV have only served to shape a nation’s perception for the worse. I was also excited to be part of a great organisation and by the possibility of being able to help someone who was in a worse position than I ever was.

People kept telling me volunteering is an incredibly selfless gesture but I didn’t see it as that. I was doing it for me as well. I’d hoped it would help me in my journey to obtaining some self-worth which I’d always lacked and it did, it gave me confidence.

I’ve befriended two men in their 50s since I started volunteering for Coventry and Warwickshire Mind 18 months ago, sparing two to three hours once a week. Luckily, although I work full-time, I’ve been able to arrange to meet them at the weekend. I found the transformation in them both so rewarding.

My message to anyone thinking of volunteering is don’t just think about it, do it! Coventry and Warwickshire Mind makes you very welcome and provides training so you are well prepared.