My journey into volunteering with Coventry and Warwickshire Mind started way back in 2006. I was suffering from stress and anxiety when my GP referred me to SHARE. At that time SHARE was held at the Junction and consisted of a 12-week course with a further six weeks available to examine the issues a little more deeply.
As is often the case, I found that in the first few weeks I took in very little of what was being said and so I went through the whole course a second time. This time I also did the optional additional six weeks. At the end of this I was so much better. I was no longer fearful of crowds and much more able to lead the life I wanted, so I decided to answer the call for volunteers. I had retired and had time to devote to a good cause.
I helped set up at the start and tidy up at the end and did any small jobs which needed doing. The roll gradually evolved though, helping out with the presentation of the course, perhaps just one small section of an afternoon at first, to where I am today, 11 years later, teaching the Anxiety Management and Relaxation course at Cooper’s Lodge in Coventry. The course is now 10 weeks long with sessions of 1 1/2 hours each. I deliver the course about three times most years.
I get a lot of pleasure from seeing people who arrive on day one, from very quiet and anxious to ten weeks later when they are chatting amongst themselves and taking a full part in discussions. There is nothing as satisfying as helping your fellow human being.
Doing this also helps keep my brain active, most important as the years rapidly advance. Away from Coventry and Warwickshire Mind I am Chairman of Coventry Pétanque Club, learning to play the piano but not very successfully and researching my family history. Not too bad for a 75-year-old.