Why Volunteer for PeerTalk? Tom's story...

TomWhy did you choose to volunteer for PeerTalk?

I became drawn to the idea of volunteering during my studies into mental health. I have also known friends and colleagues that have experienced mental health difficulties. These experiences made me realise that I had to get involved in some way. Seeing the PeerTalk model and how it worked locally and with the community seemed like a perfect fit for me.

What do you get out of it?

What is particularly nice about the groups that I facilitate is that although the peers have very unique experiences, there is always the sense of finding common ground to be able to offer support and advice. Creating this safe space free of judgement is really what makes this work. It is an immensely rewarding experience to know that I as a facilitator have helped to create this space. While each meeting is different, the feeling of pride and achievement I get is always the same.

How are you supported in your role?

PeerTalk takes great pride in the work of its volunteers, and this is reflected in the support that is offered. Regular group meetings throughout the year allow us as volunteers to reflect on meetings and give an opportunity to discuss what additional support might be needed. Training sessions hosted by professionals have been offered during my time at PeerTalk, and we are encouraged to attend local community events. The whole PeerTalk team are supportive and approachable.

Has anything particularly struck you whilst volunteering with PeerTalk?

One of the things that struck me is how the groups encourage me to reflect on my own situation at home or at work. The advice shared amongst the group is brilliant, and I see myself benefiting from the support too. It is also great to see relationships amongst the peers develop over the weeks, forming a stronger support system both in and out of the sessions.

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering for PeerTalk?

For those who are anxious or unsure about volunteering, I would say just go for it! It is a cliché to say it but the people at PeerTalk, from the administrative staff to management instantly put me at ease and encouraged me. The training day was fantastic, and I really felt I was joining something special.