Stephen Russell started volunteering with Hertfordshire Mind Network around 6 months ago, and volunteers regularly in courses such as Managing Anxiety, Confidence Building and Mindfulness. Stephen’s role is to support the tutor both on a practical level, such as getting the room ready and helping organising necessary paperwork, but also on an emotional level, such as making clients attending the course feel comfortable as well as assisting individual clients who may need additional support.
1. How long have you been volunteering for Hertfordshire Mind Network? How did you hear about them?
I have been volunteering for Hertfordshire Mind Network now well over 6 months. I found out about my local branch in Watford when looking for my own help, but also found out about volunteering opportunities.
2. What made you want to join and help?
Seeing the poor state that the mental health sector is in, I felt an urge to help and having already done some counselling training, thought I could help others. Also, because I have suffered with depression and anxiety myself, I have seen how it affects people, along with other life issues. If I can help people see that they are not alone and give them some hope that recovery is possible, then it would be so worth my time.
3. How often do you volunteer for the project and do you balance this with work or other life commitments?
Hertfordshire Mind Network run 6 week courses such as Managing Anxiety, Confidence Building and Managing Anger across the county, and I support the tutor to deliver the courses in Watford as much as I can. I am also thinking about Peer Mentoring but due to my own issues of being evicted, these are holding me back from doing that at present. I don't work currently due to health issues, and do not want to sit at home and rather put something back. In fact, this whole process for me is opening up new opportunities and training that may lead to paid work.
4. Why are volunteers so important?
With funding cuts across the board and one in four people suffering from a mental health condition, volunteers are needed more than ever to supply vital support to those that need it. When someone who needs that help knows someone is doing it free and out of compassion to help, it can have a really profound effect on them knowing that people do care.
5. Why would you recommend people to volunteer?
There are several reasons why I would recommend someone to volunteer at Hertfordshire Mind Network, such as helping others in need and you see them improve, which is the most satisfying thing to witness. Volunteering at an organisation that acts as an advocate for mental health awareness opens your eyes to others’ issues and gives you more understanding and therefore more compassion. It heals you just as much as it heals the clients. The best part of volunteering is you get to meet some great people!
6. How can others get involved and help support the project?
You can contact Hertfordshire Mind Network via their website. They have a variety of different volunteering roles, and there is something for everyone. http://www.hertsmindnetwork.org/join-us/volunteering/