I learnt a lot from other clients, volunteers and staff from KIM. After talking to a few volunteers in the groups, I discovered that majority of the volunteers at KIM had previously been clients themselves. That provided me with a sense of comfort in knowing that the people I was talking to and gaining support from had in fact actually been sat where I was then. They understood. Getting support from people who have been where you are, to me is invaluable. This gave me hope knowing that maybe one day I will be where they are now. After this I discovered the development opportunities KIM has to offer that are available to clients.
I believed I was ready to move forward again and take a step in the right direction, and to me that was volunteering. I decided to become a volunteer not only as part of my own personal recovery journey but also to help others like others have helped me and to be able to give back to KIM for all that they had done for me. I was so inspired by the volunteers and staff we have at KIM; they do incredible work in supporting people in the community with different types of groups that are available for women and the growth of the organisation in now supporting men and young people too. I wanted nothing more than to be a part of that.
After I did the accredited volunteer training, the first group I volunteered at was with women in the community. It was very daunting at first but as time went on my confidence increased and I found myself taking on the role of volunteering in group support rather well. In addition to this and with my increased confidence I was able to use my existing skills to offer support with the finances.
I was approached by a member of staff to develop and facilitate a group called Understanding Recovery. I found this very challenging due to the additional responsibility that was bestowed on me. I wanted to deliver this group the best way I could so the clients could really benefit and get the most out of it and develop tools to maintain their wellbeing. This opportunity that came my way was one of the biggest I’ve had; this helped with my prolonged problem with self-esteem. By facilitating this group I developed new confidence that I didn’t know I had and my self-esteem was raised. The feedback I received from staff and clients led to a sense of validation which in turn increased my self-worth.
We all know stepping out of your comfort zone helps with change, and change is a part of life. I have always struggled with change so stepping out of my comfort zone was an essential part of my recovery journey. Some new opportunities came my way in KIM which would mean I would be stepping out of my comfort zone if I chose to do so, and I did. Building on the skills which I had developed and feeling a sense of empowerment, I was prepared to take on new challenges.
One of the opportunities that came my way was volunteering at a group for the young people’s project that KIM offers for young people who are struggling with their mental health. Being a young person and having been younger when I was struggling with poor mental health I understand the need for support of young people. From my own experience, there wasn’t much to offer young people who were struggling. I didn’t know who to turn to. Now that KIM has opened that door for young people to access support if they need it, I wanted to contribute to supporting young people as it’s an area that has been neglected. I believe that the earlier people can access support it could potentially decrease the chance of problems developing further by increasing their self-awareness and resilience.
With all the opportunities I had taken in my stride, one opportunity that I was given was a huge surprise for me. I was asked to join the board of trustees of KIM. I was overwhelmed by the offer, knowing that they value me and my input about the organisation, the organisation that has given me so much over these past couple of years; I could not turn that down. It is a big responsibility but to be able contribute ideas and to make sure the organisation is running effectively for everyone involved is a privilege.
What I love most about my volunteering role is meeting new clients and seeing evidence of their improved wellbeing. Everybody’s journey is different but I’d like to be a symbol of hope to everyone I come across in KIM. I hope to portray that it is possible to experience mental health challenges and still find a way to live a meaningful, fulfilling life by increasing resilience and finding a way to deal with difficult times. I hope to inspire clients like other volunteers had inspired me.
My journey with KIM from being a client to becoming a volunteer has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far. I have learnt so much about myself, about other people and about recovering from poor mental health. This has helped me immensely on my recovery journey. I have increased my confidence, resilience and my self-esteem significantly since joining KIM back in 2014. My view of myself was very poor and at one point I honestly thought that view would never change. By becoming a volunteer and giving back to KIM, to help others as well as myself, it has helped me feel better about myself and I could never be more thankful. Volunteering has also increased my self-efficacy which I am extremely grateful for. I have a stronger belief that I can accomplish tasks and challenges and can now slowly stop believing in the doubts that come creeping in. I wouldn’t be where I am today without KIM and the opportunities they have given me. When I came to KIM I was merely a shell of a person, I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. KIM has helped me become the person I am today and has helped me gain a sense of purpose in my life.