Firstly, I need to mention that prior to December 2016 and for many years before that, I was an alcoholic and ex-prisoner. I am soon to be 2 years sober and rebuilding my life and this is how volunteering became so important for me, especially as I hadn’t been employed since October 2008.
So, I self-referred to begin my volunteering with ‘Futures In Mind’ in November 2017, when I attended ‘Interpersonal Skills’ training and studied for a NCFE Level 2 Mentoring qualification. This gave me the skills and knowledge required to meet with service users on a 1-1 basis; to support them in life and to enable them to move forward. It’s fantastic!
Whilst training, I rediscovered my desire to engage with people on a greater level. Inspired by the trainers/facilitators at ‘Futures In Mind’ I wanted to emulate their skills myself, developing my own style. Seizing the opportunity to continue to learn I attended ‘Facilitation Skills’ training. This enabled me to help support the service and now, 10 months later, I have been facilitating groups on my own, both inside and outside the organisation.
I’ve assisted in support groups (Welcome Cafés) for people with mental health issues, along with those that are in recovery from addiction, helping me to develop my interpersonal skills and give me greater awareness of the challenges people are confronted with. This was a safe environment for them to meet, engage and hone their own social interaction.
I’ve come full circle and had the opportunity to visit HMP Pentonville to promote ‘Futures In Mind’ services and encourage individuals in prison to follow in my footsteps. As I was once in a similar situation to them the importance of this commonality is second to none.
I have represented ‘Futures In Mind’ at the Department for Health & Social Care in London as the Government announced that it is developing a new Alcohol Strategy. This was a real opportunity for me to put forward the case for alcohol treatment and the difference it can make.
Since engaging with ‘Futures In Mind’ I have continued to improve whilst developing new skills. This goes a long way to supporting other people in the community, helping them to identify their goals and ambitions and to move forward in life.
I believe I am an inspiration to others thanks to my knowledge base, resourcefulness and ‘new’ learnt behaviour. This has been the most rewarding ‘work experience’ I have ever had and I trust it will continue to exceed my expectations.
I am developing a career strategy for myself that I believe will demonstrate to other individuals there’s no limit to what they can achieve.
Volunteering is a great way to get back on your feet and, who knows, there might be an employment opportunity too.
It starts with a V – Volunteer!
To view all volunteering roles with Futures in Mind Click Here