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Would you like to support someone rebuild their confidence and wellbeing? Do you have a particular skill you would like to share, such as cooking, IT, art or music? Or do you have an interest in supporting wellbeing groups? Join our friendly, enthusiastic team of mental health volunteers to help others rediscover their interests and reconnect with their communities.

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If you are looking for an opportunity to gain work experience or simply want to help people live more fulfilling lives I would whole-heartedly recommend volunteering with Second Step!

Angus, Second Step volunteer

Head shot of Angus

Talk to us about volunteering

Volunteering Call Back Form

Have a chat with a friendly member of our team about our volunteering opportunities and how we can support you if you choose to volunteer with Second Step. Fill in the form below with your name and whether you'd prefer to be contacted by phone or email, and we'll give you a call back as soon as possible.

Please tick the box below to confirm you are happy for Second Step to contact you

About volunteering with Second Step

At Second Step, we believe in a world where every person has the opportunity to create a positive future. Our most important values are believing in hope & courage, building trust, celebrating diversity, learning & growing, and our belief that when we pull together, we can succeed together.

We offer a range of volunteer roles in across Bristol, Somerset and North Somerset, including one-to-one peer mentors, crisis service volunteers, group activity facilitators (e.g. allotment gardening, arts & crafts), and admin roles.

You don't need to be an 'expert' to get involved in mental health volunteering. If you have compassion, empathy, and enthusiasm, we'd love to hear from you. Many of our volunteers have their own lived experience too, e.g. mental health recovery or homelessness.

Volunteering with us is also a great way to build confidence and gain valuable work experience, and many of our volunteers go on to secure paid employment in the mental health sector or another sector. Hear directly from some of our volunteers about their experiences and what volunteering means for them here.

Got a question about mental health volunteering with Second Step?

We've answered some common questions about mental health volunteering in our FAQs below. Or, pop your question over to us by filling our online enquiry form here.

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It’s a privilege to be able to work with the wonderful volunteers of Second Step. We strive to support all volunteers to find roles and opportunities to best fit their skills, and support everyone with their individual goals and aspirations. Whether taking on one-to-one or group-based work, our volunteers have a huge impact on our clients’ wellbeing and the support we are able to provide as an organisation.

Alice Mahood, Volunteering Team Manager

Alice Mahood, Volunteering Manager

The benefits of mental health volunteering with Second Step

At Second Step, we take our commitment to our volunteers seriously. A lot of our mental health volunteers join us to learn and develop and it's so important that they're given the right support. We take pride in our training and development programme and and are recognised by Investing in Volunteers, the UK quality standard for good practice in volunteer management.

As a new volunteer, you will be part of a team and have the support of a volunteer manager. You will receive comprehensive training to make sure you feel confident in your role, and have regular check-ins, supervisions to help you work towards your goals, and regular opportunities to meet up with your fellow volunteers. This might all sound daunting at first – Angus, one of our current volunteers, felt the same way, but his confidence grew quickly with the support of his team. He has kindly allowed us to share his experience here:


Angus: "I would whole-heartedly recommend volunteering with Second Step!"

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Volunteering with Second Step has been an enriching and insightful experience. As a service user feedback volunteer I had the opportunity to interview people regarding their experience with Second Step and it was heart-warming to hear the overwhelmingly positive responses that I received. I was able to contribute towards a genuinely worthwhile cause while simultaneously gaining work experience within a forward-thinking mental health organisation.

"I was initially a bit apprehensive about beginning the role, however my worries were quickly put to rest by how welcome I was made to feel by the Second Step team. They provided excellent training before I started and the volunteer coordinators ensured that I always felt supported and valued as a volunteer. If you are looking for an opportunity to gain work experience or simply want to help people live more fulfilling lives I would whole-heartedly recommend volunteering with Second Step!"

Angus, Second Step volunteer

Head shot of Angus

Watch: Volunteer stories

Hear directly from volunteers Jo (who volunteers with our Next Steps service in Somerset) and Ben (who volunteers with our Get Connected mentoring project) about why they volunteer with Second Step and their experiences. Click the arrows at the edge of the video to switch videos:

Jo - peer volunteering with Next Steps

Jo talks about how she supports people in Somerset settle back into the community after leaving hospital as a peer volunteer with our Next Steps service.

Ben - volunteering with Get Connected

Ben shares how he supports clients with their mental health recovery through our Get Connected project.

Interested in mental health volunteering? We'd love to hear from you

We want to make our application process as easy as possible. Visit our online volunteering portal to find out about our current volunteering opportunities in Bristol, Somerset and North Somerset:

If you have any questions or would like to talk to us about mental health volunteering with Second Step, please get in touch:

What to expect when you apply to volunteer with Second Step

  1. We process your application 
  2. You attend an interview with our team (currently held over Zoom) 
  3. Your Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check is approved and your referee contacted. 
  4. You will be required to undertake up to three days of training, depending on the role you will be taking up. 

We are required to complete a DBS check. This is to ensure both your safety and the safety of the people that you may be working with. There is no cost involved for the volunteer. Having a criminal record will not automatically prevent you from becoming a volunteer. 

Volunteering frequently asked questions

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about volunteering with Second Step Can't see what you're looking for? Pop your question to us via our online enquiry form or request a call or email back and one of the team will be in touch shortly.

How old do I have to be to volunteer with Second Step?

The minimum age to volunteer with Second Step is 18.

How long does it take to become a volunteer with Second Step?

As we work with vulnerable adults we have a recruitment process to adhere to. This includes a DBS check and the provision of a reference. We also ask that volunteers complete our core training which is currently being held online.,

We estimate that it takes approximately 6 - 8 weeks to complete all the stages required before being ready to volunteer. If you have opted to be a one to one mentor there may also be a period of waiting to be matched with a suitable mentee.

I am a counselling /psychotherapy student, can I do a placement with you?

We are not able to provide counselling or student placements. We do not have staff capacity for appropriate placements and supervision for counselling students. Please take a look at our Work With Us page for more information.

I would like to be able to practise counselling or CBT. Will I be able to do that if I volunteer with Second Step?

We do not offer our service users one-to-one counselling. As an organisation we are committed to providing a recovery-focused support and we ask that our volunteers are committed to working within this approach.

I am receiving support, am I able to volunteer?

You may be able to volunteer with us. However, we evaluate suitability on a case-by-case basis, and we are unable to accept volunteers who are receiving a high level of support. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

I am in supported housing, am I able to volunteer?

We are currently developing a programme to support the opportunity of volunteering either within Second Step or externally for people who are currently being offered support. Please get in touch with us for more information.

I’m in recovery for alcohol and drug use, can I volunteer?

You need to be in recovery for six months. If you are on a low level prescription for substance use then please let us know and we’ll have a chat with you about it.

I have a police record, will I be able to volunteer?

All volunteers need to complete a DBS before starting to volunteer with us. If you have convictions it does not necessarily mean that you cannot volunteer, we will complete a risk evaluation and management plan if necessary.

I am on benefits, will I be able to claim expenses?

We pay expenses for travel, including bus or car travel. We also will pay for refreshments over five hours volunteering in a day, and drinks to a maximum of £2 per drink for mentors per meeting. Volunteering with us should not affect your benefits in any way.

What training is available before starting volunteering?

We provide our volunteers with our core training package, covering issues such as recovery, boundaries, confidentiality, mental health stigma and safeguarding. There is mentoring training for volunteers who would like one-to-one roles. Second Step also runs training programmes that volunteers can request to attend alongside staff.

What support will I get from Second Step?

All volunteers have one to one support and supervision from a Volunteer Coordinator, they are also invited to group supervision with other volunteers who are doing the same role. You will also have regular check in’s from your Volunteer Coordinator.

The volunteer services staff are available from Monday – Friday if you need anything.

I’m only available on the evenings and weekends, can I still volunteer?

The volunteer hours are generally between 9am– 5pm Monday to Fridays. Occasionally we have requests for out of hour one to one support over the telephone. If this is something you would be interested in we can discuss this with you in more detail. Visit our online volunteering portal to see our current volunteering opportunities and the hours.

What commitment do you need from me?

We ask all volunteers to commit for up to 4 hours per week (including travel time) for 12 months.

I have a different question

Please contact us if you have any further questions or would like to discuss volunteering in more detail. Fill in our online enquiry form or request a call or email back using the form near the top of this page.

Find out more about volunteering with Second Step on our News Hub:

“I’m here to listen”: Our volunteers’ crucial role in clients’ mental health recovery 

Ben shares his experience volunteering with Second Step, how he supports our clients with their mental health recovery, and why he recommends volunteering with Second Step to anyone thinking about giving some of their time to make a real difference in people’s lives.  

Read More

Katie’s journey

Katie tells her story of volunteering at a local radio station.

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My Second Step Journey

For Volunteers’ Week 2022, Support Worker Charlie shares his Second Step journey and how his volunteering experience helped him achieve his goal of working in mental health support.

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Mental health volunteering at the Crisis Safe Spaces in Somerset

interested in supporting people who are in mental health crisis? Lydia shares what it’s like to volunteer with us.

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Sharing mental health volunteering stories for Volunteers’ Week 2022

For Volunteers’ Week 2022, we want to recognise the amazing work our volunteers do for our clients. Their generosity and compassion help us to deliver the best possible support to people struggling with their mental health

Read More

My role in helping people go from hospital to back to the community

Today we hear from Jo who has recently joined our Next Steps team a volunteer Peer Support Worker. She tells…

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Volunteering as a gateway

Volunteering is often talked about as a gateway to paid work. This volunteers week we have Claire our Digital Communications Officer talking about how volunteering helped her into her job.

Read More

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