My name is Josh and I am a volunteer at Derby City Life Links.
I started volunteering in March of 2019 as part of a placement for a University course that I am taking. However, I decided to stay with DCLL once I had completed the placement and am now a permanent volunteer at the service. I chose to stay at DCLL because I am looking for a career in mental health and DCLL is a great way to gain experience.
I volunteer mostly on the phoneline, this means that when anybody rings into the service then I would be the person that they speak to. At first it was a case of building confidence and listening in on phone calls. Over time this became answering every other call and now I am confident enough to answer and deal with every call that comes into the service. Although there is always a recovery worker in the phoneline room with me just in case I need advice or have any questions, at no point have I ever felt like I wouldn’t get the support if needed.
The bulk of phoneline work is to do with referrals. When somebody wants to access the service then a form is done that includes all of their personal details, contact details etc. Then an extended referral would need to be completed, this includes all the relevant information about a person’s mental health, and what support they are interested in. This information is then used to come to a decision with the person about what support may be best for them. Referrals can come in via phone, email, post or in person. However, during times when the phoneline is quiet, there is still a lot to do. Making sure the website is up to date is a big part of this, checking that the services that are advertised are all updated and looking for services that may not be on the website.
While volunteering at DCLL I have also been able to attend other events/ conferences in the community that otherwise would not have been aware of. For example I was able to attend a recovery conference ran by Derby city drug and alcohol service Aquarius in which people celebrated their recovery stories. It was at times equally upsetting as it was inspiring to hear the journey that these people had been on and the support they had received. There were also guest speakers, performances and activity workshops throughout the day. I also had the chance to represent DCLL at East Midlands Trains R U OK event at Derby Train station. This event highlighted mental health and conveyed the messaged that it is okay to talk about it, simply asking somebody “R U OKAY” can help. It was great to see so many local services attend the event and talk to the public about mental health.
I have also been able to begin leading the Mind Gym that is ran by DCLL. Mind Gym runs every 2 weeks and is a safe place for people to come and talk about their mental health, share experience and coping strategies, without fear of being judged. It has been a privilege to take part in the group and I hope I can continue to do so for a long time.
Volunteering has given me the chance to gain experience of working in mental health, but I have also met wonderful people and have seen the great work to Derby City Life Links and other Derby City mental health services do in the community.
I would definitely recommend getting into volunteering to anybody.