What was your situation and background before you became involved with volunteering?
I was working as the Exams Officer at a high school in Leeds when I became poorly during 2013. My condition deteriorated and I was admitted to hospital and finally diagnosed in December 2013 with Neuro-sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is a rare anti-immune disease which is managed with steroids and other medication. Unfortunately I had to sell my house and lost my job which was really hard for me to come to terms with.
How did you get involved with Touchstone?
Touchstone’s PCP (Positive Care Programme) was recommended to me by a family member who had been involved. I completed an application form and was offered a place on the September-December 2015 course. I felt a bit apprehensive and didn’t quite know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. The programme offered me weekly session including yoga, mindfulness and treatments such as shiatsu, massage & healing. I met lots of other people who were also living with a long term health condition and it was really helpful being able to share ideas and just know that “I am not alone”. I learnt different positive coping strategies and met new people.
How long have you been a volunteer?
I have been a volunteer for 9 months.
What volunteering have you been involved in?
Having completed the PCP course I decided that I would like to give something back so I enquired about becoming a volunteer for Touchstone. I got involved in the last PCP course as a volunteer. I was also involved in the ‘living with a long term health condition’ project, helping to facilitate 3 sessions. I found it really beneficial meeting others in a similar situation and being able to discuss and share ideas. I currently volunteer for the Volunteers Project 2 days per week, providing admin support and shadowing one-to-one sessions.
What outcomes have been achieved so far for you?
I feel like I have grown as a person and my confidence is developing all the time. Having not worked for 3 years it is nice to be back into some kind of routine even if it is part time for now. I am building my knowledge of the Touchstone services and hope to be able to apply for a paid position when the time is right. I am looking forward to increasing my skills and learning as much as possible through volunteering and training.