The adventures of a new volunteer
Posted Thursday 21 July 2011
Since I was little, I’ve had a passion for psychology and a particular interest the field of mental health. Often, I felt I should do more than just attend lectures at university, particularly as I would love to be a psychologist in future; so this year I began volunteering with Mind.
I went along to the training sessions in Februrary. They were interesting and informative evenings with much debate and discussion among the group, and there was a great sense of support from the training team and from the new volunteers-in-training themselves. I left feeling excited for the challenge ahead and eager to begin.
After delays that were mostly the fault of my MSc schedule, a couple of weeks ago I set off for my first time volunteering at a Meeting Places session at the Herts Mind Network.
Driving there I was definitely nervous: was I going to be any good at this? Would it be too difficult to get talking to someone? How would people react to me once I told them I was studying mental health at university? Would anyone even want to talk to me for long enough for me to have the chance to have a conversation about university!? Would anyone talk to me at all?
I arrived before the start and was shown around the different rooms that would be open: music room, art room, a room with computers, a pool table, inside seating, outside garden area and of course, the kitchen. Impressed (and hoping I wouldn’t be called upon to demonstrate my negligible musical skills) I helped set up drinks and biscuits in the kitchen and settled in front of the Wimbledon coverage to wait.
I really needn’t have been nervous in the slightest. A steady trickle of people began to arrive, and it felt as though each was more than happy to be introduced to me, or have a quick chat about me being a new volunteer and introduce me to someone else who had come in. And thus began a very happy afternoon of meeting friendly people and talking about anything and everything, from Wimbledon to Christmas cracker jokes to Marc Bolan and T-Rex.
I had a wander through the music room and watched a banjo lesson, caught up on who had won various games of pool, made myself cups of tea and enjoyed sitting out in the sun and chatting with people.
The whole afternoon had a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and I felt so welcomed, despite everyone knowing each other already. I’m most definitely looking forward to going back again this weekend.
If you’re thinking of volunteering for Mind, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. You really won’t feel like the newbie for long.
Emma Cernis, @PsyBubble
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