One of my main reasons for volunteering was to try and return to paid employment. I'm a lone parent with two daughters aged 7 and 9 years old. I was finding it really hard to get a job. It has been nine years since I last worked. The drugs project I worked for was closed down and my manager had passed away, so it was a real problem obtaining references. I had volunteered before for HIV, Family and Carers Support Group and really thought it was worthwhile and it helped in my application for my University course in Alcohol and Drug Studies.
This volunteering position appealed to me as it covered the huge area of health improvement, a subject close to my heart, if you pardon the pun!
I can happily report I have been successful in getting a job with the NHS as a ‘sessional smoking cessation facilitator'. I'm certain my experience as a 'Health Information Point Support Volunteer' definitely gave me an advantage over other candidates. The support and encouragement from my Volunteer Co-ordinator also played a big part in my confidence to apply for the job.
Initially one of my major hurdles in taking up this voluntary work was childcare. I had to arrange for my two primary school age children to be picked up after school finished and looked after until I could collect them. This was due to some of the training ending at 4pm. This was tricky as I am a lone parent with no family support so I had to ask friends as a favour to look after my children.
I really enjoyed the training. It was great to be meeting new people and learning about health. I'm really interested in health and how we can improve our own health.
My Granny always impressed on me how important good health was 'it doesn't matter how much money you have, if you don't have your health'. My Granny was brought up in an era before the NHS and lost siblings to childhood diseases and explained what a financial struggle it was to call the Doctor to the house.
The benefits of volunteering to me have been huge. It’s made me feel I'm doing something worthwhile as I am trying to make people aware of steps they can take to improve their health or prevent them developing a serious illness.
I enjoy the face to face contact with the patients if I can engage them in a conversation about health matters I feel useful and feel a sense of achievement. I think I provide a welcoming and open face to the patients and that I have time to listen to their concerns.
I also try and acquaint myself with health centre staff and other service providers so I can put a face to a name and find out about the service so I can really promote the service to patients such as Smoke Free Services and the Bridging Service.
Volunteering has improved my own health and well-being. It has given a routine and a purpose to my life. It’s made me feel a part of something good. It helped me contact my own Doctor about my risk of breast cancer and I was sent for genetic counselling which explained my risk was slightly higher than average and now I receive earlier breast screening.
I would highly recommend volunteering it's a great opportunity and has certainly been fantastic for me!