Volunteer Case Studies

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Mentoring+Befriending Foundation

Chris | Sonia | Tom | Caitlin | Mary | Caroline | Wayde |

1. Chris

I had heard of Bridge whilst I was in for a detox a few years ago. I kind of figured that (and I know it sounds cliché) I could make a difference and help people who were going through similar issues that I went through. I felt I could empathise and understand what some of the members may be going through, and the problems caused by drinking to excess.

I was interested in becoming a mentor for Bridge. I went on the training and learned a lot about how to be an effective mentor. Since I have started mentoring, it has given me an incredible sense of wellbeing, even though the member was a total stranger. I believe a shared experience can be good for both people.

I have a number of different roles now within Bridge. I lead my own activity session, I help with inductions, help out as a handyman, support members in activities and will sit and talk with members.

I enjoy my role and I would like to work within recovery services in the future. The idea of studying for qualifications in drug and alcohol counselling has now become a possibility. I still have bad days myself but I find Bridge to be a supportive environment and most of my issues seem insignificant compared to others.

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2. Sonia

I found out about Bridge through a friend of mine who was a Bridge member. I visited Bridge one day with her to see what it was like. When I got there I saw an advert for a Volunteer Cleaner. I applied for it and was successful.

I was very nervous when I started and was very quiet. I only spoke to people when I needed to, due to my lack of confidence, but I really enjoyed being here knowing that I was helping in some way. I gradually increased my hours and started getting involved in different roles such as reception. This helped me open up more and my confidence grew when talking to others.

I have been here now for two and a half years and my role has greatly changed. I have volunteered in the kitchen, reception, the admin office, have led activities, I do member inductions and I am a mentor.

I love being able to support people, and help where I can. My confidence has grown significantly and I feel like I am a different person. I am encouraged to attend training sessions and to learn new skills. I know that I am valued and part of the team here, and that makes me feel very good about myself.

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3. Tom

I became a volunteer as I wanted to give something back to the services that have supported me. Bridge was one of those services. I am a mentor at Bridge and I help out on reception. One of my responsibilities on reception is to train other volunteers. I enjoy meeting different people, volunteering gives me something meaningful to do and gets me out of the house. I have made many friends through volunteering at Bridge and I hope that I can continue to help people in the future.

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4. Caitlin

I applied to volunteer at Bridge as I thought it would be a good way to build my confidence and thought it would look good on my CV. I wanted to feel like I was helping people.

My role at Bridge is in the admin office working on the computers. I have never worked in an office before and I have gained a lot of experience and realise that it plays a very important part in an organisation like Bridge. I also interact with members, this may be in activities or sitting with people and talking with them. This is something I really enjoy and I also enjoy working in a non-judgemental environment.

Volunteering has helped me with building my confidence and I hope to become a mentor in the future.

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5. Mary

I became a volunteer because I was given so much help and support and I wanted to give something back to Bridge for this. I have had substance misuse issues myself and felt that I may be able to help others at Bridge.

I help out wherever I am needed. I talk to members, listen to their problems, help them with telephone calls, using computers, form filling, and anything that is required of me such as cleaning, or helping in activities.

Volunteering helps me because I know I am a part of something. I feel welcomed, I belong somewhere and do not feel judged by anyone. It feels like a family at Bridge and I have made a lot of friends here.

I really enjoy being around the people who come to Bridge, people who are like me. The atmosphere at Bridge is so good.

I feel accepted for who I am. I thank Bridge for all that it has done for me. It has literally changed my life.

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6. Caroline

I initially came to Bridge on a student placement through the Offender Management degree. I did not know what to expect of Bridge but I learned a lot in the three months I was here. I enjoyed listening to people and their stories, and helping and supporting them. I asked to stay as a volunteer as I had enjoyed it so much and wanted to continue to learn more about people. It was such a welcoming, friendly, upbeat atmosphere to be in.

I would help where needed, from cleaning to cooking to admin, and helping with activities. I was able to learn so much in this time and this experience was invaluable for my studies. As my knowledge grew, so did my confidence.

Every day is different and I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them. I came here as a student, stayed as a volunteer, and I am now an employee here, working as a Recovery Champion.

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7. Wayde

I wanted to become a volunteer at Bridge as I have had issues with drugs myself so I wanted to gain more experience of how to help others. I have a qualification in fitness and enjoyed using the gym so I wanted to gain more experience of working in a gym also. I couldn't believe that there was a service like this but knowing that I could help people whilst gaining more experience really appealed to me.

I began helping the gym instructor in the gym. This helped my self-esteem to grow and made me feel more adequate, knowing that I was doing something productive like this. It helped me in every aspect of my life - my emotional and physical wellbeing.

I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life who come here. Putting what I had learned at college to practice also boosted my self-confidence. I have been on many courses and this has helped me to be better in my role, helping more people.

I eventually wanted to find a job and I was fortunate that I was able to achieve that here, and I am now the gym instructor for Bridge.

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Bridge Substance Misuse Programme Ltd is a Social Enterprise, company registered number 06221493. Registered office 63c Gold Street, Northampton, NN1 1RA.