Role and motivation to volunteer
I began to volunteer in January 2020 with the Recovery College. My role is life-coaching, specifically in a group setting. I would describe life coaching as software engineering for people! We are all programmed by our past experiences, so sometimes we need to review our software to make sure we are using the right programme for what we want to achieve and that there is nothing misdirecting us. In our group sessions we clarify goals that clients want to achieve, identify obstacles holding them back and then come up with strategies to overcome these obstacles. Every client will set a goal that they want to achieve at the beginning of the course. This could be anything from improving their health, starting a musical project or increasing their self-esteem. We review our progress in each session, increasing self-awareness through questioning ourselves in a safe and supportive environment. It is less about giving people advice and more about giving people the opportunity to explore themselves. We work on overcoming challenges together. During the sessions, everyone gets a chance to speak and works on their goals outside of the group. This ensures clients remain on track to achieve their goals and the group gives people a chance to reflect and work on their progress.
I wanted to volunteer with St Mungo’s after meeting a street fund raiser and he explained St Mungo’s cause. I was really moved by this and wanted to contribute in a way other than financially. I thought I could use my skills with the organization, so I contacted the volunteering team at St Mungo’s and things went from there, now here I am!
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on volunteering
When the first lockdown happened we weren’t able to meet up to have the sessions in person, so we quickly adapted and changed to a digital model to deliver the sessions remotely. This was actually a more convenient and effective method to run the course. After some initial technical hitches and getting familiar with working online, it was easier for people to log in remotely rather than travelling to the Recovery College. It also made it more accessible for people, so we were able to offer the course to more clients.
There have been some challenges in that it is harder to build a rapport remotely rather than in person and there have been some technical issues in getting clients connected, but overall I would say it has made volunteering more accessible and convenient. Everyone has become more familiar and comfortable in the setting. Also, I am currently in Prague and am still able to volunteer so it is great to have this flexibility! Whilst the pandemic has made volunteering easier, Covid-19 has obviously made life more challenging for everyone.
The impact of volunteering and highlights of volunteering during a challenging year
Every Tuesday is a highlight for me. I love to see clients progressing and working towards their goals. Every week we have an opportunity to learn from each other’s journeys and progress as we uncover the answers which lie within ourselves. Seeing clients improving their confidence, decision making skills, assertiveness, changing their life perspective, increasing their self-esteem, and more is really rewarding. Volunteering gives me a real sense of purpose and I really enjoy the energy of the group, helping people to realize their goals is incredibly satisfying and I really enjoy my volunteering experience!