“Starting with Second Step was straightforward: I met with one of the Volunteer Co-ordinators, then completed my training, which helped me to decide what kind of role I wanted to take. The Volunteering Team decide which service user you will be mentoring, based upon careful consideration; it's a process of match-making. I’m very impressed with Second Step for that approach. I feel fully supported in what to expect, what’s expected from me and the ultimate goal, which is getting people back into the community.’
The training with Second Step has been brilliant. It taught me how to build an appropriate relationship and what’s realistic as far as achievement is concerned. It helps people relax into their roles to be prepared for volunteer work to come. I’ve been supported at every stage by my Volunteer Co-ordinator and also participate in group supervision with other volunteers. This gives volunteers the opportunity to share experiences and enables Second Step to build and improve their services.
I ask my service user, “What are you interested in? What do you like doing? How can we help you get out and about into the community?” We go out to join in with walking groups, which involves helping to use the bus service and making sure they’re safe whilst out and about. Supporting someone with day to day activities can be extremely useful when someone’s in a rut. I take the volunteer approach: it’s just about engagement, doing fun stuff.
In the last ten years my friends and I experienced three of our schoolmates committing suicide, and by growing up in a tough, street environment I know people, particularly young, male and from black or ethnic minority backgrounds who suffered in those surroundings. Growing up in a single parent family in the inner city can be tough, but I wouldn't change the past even if I could because it has made me the person I am today. I love my community and before I started I hoped that my role as a volunteer would enable me to nurture and improve the lives of the people around me.
Being a Mentor has made me feel incredibly good. I step out of my day to day life and do something for other people. It is incredibly powerful, there is no greater feeling. It’s about doing that little bit extra that makes people feel valued and part of the community – I actually had that feedback from a service user.
I’ve witnessed myself building an enjoyable relationship as well as discovering the ripple effect: not only is my involvement supporting someone, but I’m also freeing up my service user’s family and giving them some time away from their ongoing commitments. I didn’t realise I’d get so much out of it on a personal level.”