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Meet Bryony - A Beat SharED Peer Support Volunteer

Hello!

I’m Bryony and I volunteer with Beat across a few different roles. I have been volunteering for around 14 months now, building the number of roles I am involved with over this time. The roles I am currently involved with are being a Peer Support Volunteer on the SharED service, a Digital Helpline Volunteer and a Beat Recovery Coach on the Momentum programme supporting individuals experiencing difficulties with Binge Eating Disorder.

Being a SharED peer support volunteer, I am matched with a young person currently recovering from an eating disorder to provide email-based support over the course of 6 months, encouraging them in their recovery and using my own experiences of recovery to aid with doing this where appropriate. I love this role because I find it so rewarding to be able to practice using my own experiences of eating disorder recovery in an appropriate manner to help other young people going through similar difficulties. Personally, peer support was largely missing from my own recovery, but would probably have been SO helpful – so it’s lovely to be able to offer this kind of support to others. It feels like just about one of the only positives to have come out of my own experiences with an ED (every cloud and things hey?).

Volunteering on the Digital Helpline involves responding to chats from people seeking support related to difficulties with eating disorders and disordered eating. Typically speaking, the role involves offering some listening support but is generally more focused on supporting the service users to come up with action plans to support them in moving forwards with the query or concern they brought to the Helpline. I’ve learnt so much about supporting a range of people affected by a range of different eating disorders. I’ve found this incredibly useful – especially thinking about how to support parents, carers, family members or friends also being affected by the difficulties their close one is experiencing with their ED. The role has also taught me a lot about how to manage more difficult conversations around struggling to access support – a frustratingly large problem for so many people struggling with EDs at the moment! Although frustrating, it can be incredibly rewarding to know you have been there to listen and help service users to come up with positive action plans to help them or their loved ones in their recovery.

My role as a Beat Recovery Coach on the Momentum programme, involves offering support to those with BED using a guided self-help model and regular telephone sessions. This role is INCREDIBLY rewarding – it's so fulfilling to be supporting service users towards overcoming an ED that is so heavily stigmatised and where public service support provisions are pretty much non-existent. Although I currently work in mental health, in the future I aspire to specialise further and specifically work with those experiencing difficulties with eating disorders. This role is teaching me so much about what this would involve and allowing me to gain so many of the necessary skills involved in doing this. I could not recommend this role enough if you’re wanting to work with people with eating disorders in the future too.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoy all my volunteering roles here at Beat and have benefitted from each of them in so many ways through learning new things and improving on existing skills. I would highly recommend any of the roles I am involved in – you’ll learn a lot and feel great for it too!

Contributed by Bryony