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Volunteer Stories


Having had emotional difficulties with feelings of isolation in my own youth, I was drawn to SANE wanting to support vulnerable people's mental wellbeing. But it is not solely about helping others, listening to callers’ experiences is a rewarding and humbling experience, helping me to grow as a person; to open up and stay grounded. The benefits go two ways.

I’m currently a postgraduate trainee in counselling and psychotherapy which is incredibly challenging in itself. I have found the training and volunteering on SANEline has complemented these studies, it has been so helpful to put into practice much of what I learn at college. I highly recommend it for all counselling and psychotherapy trainees.

I've been volunteering for more than a year and I get so much out of it that I hope to continue as long as possible.


I’ve been volunteering at SANE during my 2nd and 3rd year studying Psychology at UCL. I started at SANE because I was interested in the clinical side of my course and possibly a career in mental health. I work on SANE's email service.

It has provided me with experience in listening to and trying to understand people’s difficult situations. This has shown me how valuable simply being there for people during hard times can be. When doing a degree you can easily forget the real side of psychology which is why I enjoy coming to SANE.

It has also helped me learn a bit about how the NHS works and service users’ perspectives on those services designed to help them. Volunteering at SANE has developed and confirmed my ambition to pursue a career in clinical psychology.


It was Steve Annett’s personal experience of mental illness which first made him aware of how important emotional support can be for people with mental health issues. Towards the end of his career as a journalist and communications consultant he undertook some training in counselling and psychotherapy. And following early retirement, Steve began volunteering with SANEmail.

‘I have found the basic and ongoing training and support I have received at SANE has provided a really good foundation for developing my interest in mental health’ says Steve. ‘Although the work at SANE is often challenging it never fails to be both fascinating and deeply rewarding. I feel it has contributed an enormous amount to my personal development.’

Steve now also works with a charity which supports people in suicidal crisis. And he was recently appointed an Associate Hospital Manager, a role in which he reviews the cases of people being detained under the Mental Health Act.



Paul studied languages at university and now works in the financial services sector. Having developed an interest in volunteering in his spare time, Paul began on the SANEmail service in November 2012. This was new territory for Paul, and working on SANEmail has proved to be an inspirational experience:

“I find the volunteer role to be hugely rewarding. You are given the space to learn and find your own voice, while the staff at SANE also provide you with excellent support to help you develop. I was glad to discover that anyone can become an effective volunteer, regardless of academic experience or personal background, provided that they are willing to extend empathy and support to those people who use SANE’s services.”

Spurred on by his experience at SANE so far, Paul is now pursuing a counselling qualification and has taken additional training so that he can also volunteer on SANE’s helpline.