Volunteering stories

Sue Saphier is the team leader of Imagine’s Liverpool Peer Support and Peer Mentoring Service.

Here she tells us about the service, how it helps people and how much they need volunteers to help.

I joined Imagine as a volunteer over 20 years ago and I haven’t looked back since!

I volunteered in the befriending service as it was known then, helping people who were isolated and lonely. I was offered the job of Volunteer Co-ordinator and I’m now the Team Leader.

The service is now called the Liverpool Peer Support and Peer Mentoring Service and offers a wide range of support.

That includes doing activities that a client wants to do one-to-one, such as shopping or going to the cinema, joining group activities such as photography classes, or doing online wellbeing sessions including confidence, assertiveness and relaxation. The service is based around what clients want and need.

Obviously the pandemic has had a huge impact on what we’ve been able to offer, and like most services we’ve had to switch to doing most activities over the phone or online.

Now that we’re getting close to the end of all the restrictions, we’ve been looking at the service, what we should be offering and how we will deliver it.

We’re aiming to start one-to-one and group support again, whilst still offering online wellbeing sessions for those who prefer to get involved that way.

Something new we’re looking at introducing is a buddy system for people who are experiencing anxiety related to the end of the pandemic, who may be too worried to go out or go back to their life as it was.

We’re looking at how we can make the service more empowering for clients, so they can become more self-reliant and come to us for support when they need it. That means we’re considering offering evening and weekend support which may fit better with the lifestyle of some clients.

We’re expecting more young people to need our support in the coming months. The 18–24 age group has been highly affected by job losses and mental health issues.

I’m so passionate about supporting younger people including improving digital skills to increase employability..

However, we really need more volunteers to help us.

If you are able to give us some of your time to help the people who we support, we’d really appreciate it.

We’d love to hear from anyone aged over 18 who has some time they can commit to volunteering with us.

We’d especially like to hear from you if you have a particular skill, such as playing guitar, sewing or painting for example, and you’d be happy to take a group or run activities around this.

We have volunteers from all walks of life; students, people looking to gain more experience in the field of mental health, people who have experienced our services and want to give something back, people who are retired and now have more spare time. The most important thing is that you are reliable, committed and want to make a difference.

Our volunteers tell us how rewarding it is working with clients, and how much more they understand mental health challenges. Some of our volunteers have gone on to become employees of Imagine, myself included!

I’m so glad I took the opportunity to get involved.

 

If you’d like to find out more about our volunteering opportunities, please contact Sue on ssaphier@imagineindependence.org.uk


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