“When I retired from my work in education, I was eager to find some voluntary work that gave me a new challenge. Around the same time, I’d been personally touched by mental illness when quite suddenly, out of the blue, my son became mentally ill and I found myself in a caring role. I was keen to offer emotional support to others who were in a similar situation.
“For the last four years I’ve been privileged to work on SANEline. It would be wrong to say I love the work, like I did teaching, because I frequently find people's stories very painful but I’m humbled by how individuals manage their distress and feel touched that they are so appreciative to have someone to talk to.”
“In my career I’ve needed to work with facts and data and so volunteering with SANE over the last three years has been an interesting and eye-opening transition, as being able to offer emotional support to service users has required that I really connect on an emotional level.
“The training that SANE provides is intensive and it can initially be a steep learning curve, but with on-going support from staff, you gradually develop and gain greater confidence. Empathy, active listening, reflection and clarifying are also additional skills you can expect to develop here.
“If you believe in SANE’s values and feel you could commit to a few hours a week, you should find volunteering here very rewarding!”
“I’m currently studying Psychology at UCL and through volunteering with SANE as an Office and Database volunteer - for just over a year now - I’ve managed to get my head around the organisation of the UK mental health system, and develop an understanding on how it changes so frequently.
“As well as teaching me crucial telephone skills and database management, volunteering with SANE has also helped me gain experience of office life. You really can get a lot out of volunteering for just a couple of hours a week. It’s a very rewarding experience.”
“One of the best things about volunteering with SANE is the focus on the support and development of the volunteers, and the recognition that they are one of the most important parts of what the charity tries to do. More recently I’ve been asked to come in and take part in the training of new volunteers by helping out with caller role-plays, and it's been good to help others learn, as well as give them a taste of what to expect on a call.
“Committing to a shift each week isn't always easy. I have to earn a living as well as going to college, but giving up an afternoon or an evening a week isn't that difficult when the work is this rewarding. Even though calls can be hard to deal with sometimes, I often come away from a session feeling like I have learned something quite fundamental about myself."
“I chose to volunteer with SANE because of my interest in mental health and because I wanted to do something that ‘mattered’. I also wanted a challenge and once I was selected as a SANE Services volunteer, I felt like I had achieved something: I’d taken myself out of my comfort zone and embarked on something entirely different to what I do in my normal work life.
“Throughout the training and beyond, I’ve felt totally supported by SANE. There’s also on-going training and learning opportunities once you become a volunteer: I’ve attended talks given by mental health professionals and spent a day learning about mindfulness! I really enjoy this aspect of volunteering with SANE, as such events offer valuable insights and experiences I wouldn’t otherwise have.”