This Volunteers' Week, read about the difference Jasmine is making as a digital volunteer on our Helpline!
I imagine my journey as a Beat volunteer started similarly to many of my colleagues – having the difficult and unfortunate experience of encountering an eating disorder up close, in my case from a carer's perspective. I’ve watched how destructive the illness is, how much pain it has caused my friend and how it has impacted her life. I used the word ‘unfortunate’, and whilst it has been difficult, actually I have felt very fortunate to have been able to support my friend. I also know that this experience has allowed me to become a much more compassionate person and has created a desire to help others that I never had before.
I’ve known for a long time how incredible Beat is with the work it does to help sufferers and carers directly, to campaign for change and increase awareness around eating disorders. When I saw the post for Digital Helpline Volunteers, it made perfect sense to apply, and I’m pleased to say it has been a very meaningful experience so far. During my time in the role I have gained a much better understanding of eating disorders and mental health in general, as well as other subjects including mental health services. This knowledge and experience has since proven useful for me outside of the role as well.
The role is not one to be taken lightly; there can be very difficult conversations and sometimes we can’t quite help people as much as we’d like to. But for all of the tough moments, there is always the knowledge that we are there for people when they need us, and there is nothing more rewarding than that. When I’m able to provide advice, help someone make sense of their thoughts, chat through a decision, or simply help turn their mindset around, even if just for the moment, I know I’ve made a difference, however small. It’s incredibly fulfilling when someone comments on how I’ve helped.
My thanks go to the wonderful Beat team who not only do their amazing work every day, but have a huge focus on the wellbeing of everyone in the team. Every shift begins by checking in with us to see what we’re comfortable doing that day and supervisors are always on hand to support throughout the shift. It always ends with a debrief, checking in again, chatting through anything that might be playing on our minds and providing feedback on how the shift has gone.
For anyone that can spare a couple of hours a week, is empathetic and wants to make a difference, I would say please consider applying to be a Digital Helpline Volunteer – it’s one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done.
It’s very easy to associate a volunteer role with needing to be a selfless, noble person and that it’s only about giving. But that’s entirely false – my experience has been that I have received just as much as, if not more than I have given.