Each year, Volunteers’ Week celebrates the contribution that millions of people of make across the country through their volunteering.  At Cranstoun our volunteers contributed over 15,000 hours of their time in 2018-19.  We value each and every one of them and the difference that they make to our services and our service users.  We have been speaking to some of our volunteers to discover the kind of things that they are helping out with, why they chose to volunteer and how they are getting on. 

Del’s story

Thank you to all our volunteers Cranstoun

Del works as a volunteer at our Worcester service. He works flexibly across the week, supporting a variety of roles.  He started with us in 2017 and over the years he has gained skills in many areas.

Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

I chose to volunteer with Swanswell for a few reasons. Firstly, I felt I could help others who are going through challenging times with substance misuse issues. To give back so to speak – as Swanswell helped me many years ago. And with the support I was offered back then, I would able to get my life back. Also I have been unemployed for many years now. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could learn new skills with the hope of one day becoming a Substance Misuse Worker.

What is your role as a volunteer?

Over the time I have been volunteering at Swanswell I have had different roles. From office administration support to helping run client support groups.

At the moment I support Substance Misuse Workers. I help run a clinic in Worcester and I have just started to support a clinic in Bromsgrove too where I help by carrying out urine screen tests for clients as part of their treatment.

I also shadow a Substance Misuse Worker at a local doctor’s surgery where we see a number of clients for face to face appointments. I will also attend home visit appointments. I shadow the Substance Misuse Worker to learn the skills I will need to become a Substance Misuse Worker myself.

What do enjoy most in your role?

For me it’s the sense you are helping clients. And getting to know more about them as a person. And the feeling you have had a small part to play in their recovery. Also, learning new skills and pushing myself. And being part of a team.

What have you learnt about working with substance misuse?

The first thing I have learnt is how difficult the job is. I thought it would be quite easy to work in the substance misuse field, and after a few months I would know most of the things I would need to become a Substance Misuse Worker. But it’s a lot more difficult than that. There’s a lot more paperwork than I thought. I’m still learning new things every day.

Thankfully I like a challenge.

One of the positive things I have learnt is however difficult things seem to our clients, and what issues our clients have with substance misuse, we have a great team here and they are able to offer help and support.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I tend to not see life that far ahead to be honest. But I will still be involved in helping clients at Swanswell in one role or another.

 What would you say to others who are interested in volunteering with us?

Give it a try. There are many ways you can offer your support. From just an hour a week, to as many hours as you like. There are plenty of roles available. From supporting groups by helping making tea and coffee, to running your own group or supporting Substance Misuse Workers or the administration team. There is always someone here to help support you whilst you volunteer with us.

Katharine’s story

Thank you to all our volunteers Cranstoun

Katharine has been working as a volunteer counsellor-in-training, 2-3 hours a week at Swanswell, Newbury since October last year.

Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

I am completing my diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and therefore I wanted to develop my skills as a counsellor at the same time as helping Swanswell to provide a free counselling service for their clients.

What is your role as a volunteer?

I am a ‘Counsellor in Training’ seeing clients on a 1:1 basis for 50-minute counselling sessions every week.

What do enjoy most in your role?

Meeting with clients and enabling them to have a safe space to talk.

What have you learnt about working with substance misuse? 

I attended a training session with the team which taught me a lot about different types of substances and how the harm caused by taking them can be minimised.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully as a qualified counsellor with my own counselling practice.

What would you say to others who are interested in volunteering with us?

Go for it – it’s a very varied and interesting role and it’s great to be able to help out such an important service in the community.

Alan’s story

Thank you to all our volunteers Cranstoun

Alan works as a volunteer at Inspire. He co-facilitates two group meetings and promotes recovery with all our clients.

Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

Because I wanted to give something back to Inspire for helping me.

What is your role as a volunteer?

I help run two meetings to help people to stop drinking and stay sober.

What do enjoy most in your role?

The joy of seeing people getting well.

What have you learnt about working with substance misuse/domestic violence/young people?

That substance misuse kills and ruins lives.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Working in this industry and being sober.

What would you say to others who are interested in volunteering with us?

Do it; you get so much from it.

Emily’s story

Thank you to all our volunteers Cranstoun

Emily has worked with us as a volunteer since 2018. She helps support Emotions Anonymous meetings and runs a mindfulness group at Resilience, Windsor & Maidenhead.

Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

I wanted to volunteer locally and help people and use my mindfulness skills.  I was interested in Resilience’s work. I liked the training and the premises; I felt at home in a way!

What is your role as a volunteer?

I’ve done a few assessments that I enjoyed.  Also a couple of Friday Feelings.  I have regularly attended Emotions Anonymous.

Mainly I have done a weekly mindfulness session of about 45-60 minutes. I have enjoyed it and learnt a lot.

What do enjoy most in your role?

Meeting people, sharing mindfulness, listening, seeing people overcome their difficulties, meeting staff.

What have you learnt about working with substance misuse/domestic violence/young people?

Substance misuse – I still have a lot to learn.  Some people recover and many relapse, though that’s part of it.  All you can do is plant little seeds of hope that, I guess one day they can make use of.  There is often a history of mental health and abuse and tough times to overcome.

I’ve got a lot of respect for the 12 steps, as a Buddhist.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Good question… my daughter will be 20. I don’t know if my son will have produced grandchildren!

I want to qualify as a mindfulness teacher as my third age ‘career’ – I aspire to be a healer but we shall see!  Sounds a bit grandiose!

What would you say to others who are interested in volunteering with us?

Certainly give it a go.

Hendrik’s story

Thank you to all our volunteers Cranstoun

Hendrik De Vries works as a volunteer at Wandsworth Supported Housing.  Amongst other things Hendrik provides admin support to the office team; organises residents and engages them in activities; and assists with health and safety checks in the project.

Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

To find a meaningful way to spend my time that was supportive of my own recovery at the same time.

What is your role as a volunteer?

To support staff and service users with day to day tasks and to be a role model for people in the very early stages of recovery, as it gives them hope.  It is also good for the staff to see the results.

What do enjoy most in your role?

The variety and personal involvement, using my recovery and experience from training at the same time.

What have you learnt about working with substance misuse/domestic violence/young people?

I have learnt a deeper understanding of the effects of heroin use, and the long term devastating effects of alcohol use.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would love to be doing part time support work in West Hill/Ritherdon Road, also group work within the criminal justice field.

What would you say to others who are interested in volunteering with us?

That it is very rewarding, very supportive for my own recovery and teaches you a lot about what you could potentially do as a job

Veronica’s story

Thank you to all our volunteers Cranstoun

Veronica works as a volunteer receptionist at Inspire, part of Cranstoun. She helps with admin and also takes calls and referrals.

Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

For several years I have been aware and concerned about the effects of substance misuse on individuals coping with addiction, and also the effect on those family members, friends and acquaintances around them. A change in personal commitments increased my free time and I decided to research volunteer opportunities within this sector.

What is your role as a volunteer?

I am a receptionist/administrator volunteer. I act as back-up to the receptionists when required; dealing with clients and visitors to the offices; answering phone calls from clients, hospitals, other service providers, members of staff etc.  I also assist the back-room admin staff with routine administrative tasks; which allows them to concentrate on more specialised duties.

What do enjoy most in your role?

Working with people that I admire, feeling in awe of their dedication and commitment to the clients and their acceptance and patience with someone, me, who has no previous experience of working in this sector. I feel grateful that I can be a very small part of the process of helping people recover from their addictions and live healthier, safer and, hopefully, happier lives.

What have you learnt about working with substance misuse/domestic violence/young people?

I have always been aware that addiction doesn’t discriminate or have just one face; it can affect anyone in any walk of life or circumstances. But, it has made me more aware of the comparative ease of falling into addiction; whether it is through life-style, home environment, peer-pressure or mental health issues etc. It is not always as simple as just having made a reckless choice.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I really don’t know. Life can be unpredictable!

What would you say to others who are interested in volunteering with us?

I would encourage them to definitely try it and experience what I have. But, if it turned out not to be quite what they expected, then I am sure there are plenty of other worthwhile organisations who would also welcome their help and support.

Sian’s story

Thank you to all our volunteers Cranstoun

Sian works as a volunteer at the East Sussex Families and Carers Team, part of Cranstoun. She helps with the publicity and marketing, creating our newsletters and managing photos.

Why did you choose to volunteer with us?

I wanted to get some work experience.

What is your role as a volunteer?

I help the team with publicity and promotional materials, designing the newsletters

What do enjoy most in your role?

Designing things.

What have you learnt about working with families at ESFACT?

Families of people with dual diagnosis often need emotional support and to be heard.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Doing a job I enjoy

What would you say to others who are interested in volunteering with us?

Go for it, it is rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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