It’s Volunteers’ Week – and our volunteers deserve some serious celebrating. From listening to people who need support, to sharing their own stories and spreading hope for recovery, our volunteers do some incredible things. And we couldn’t do what we do without them.
So this week, we talked to some of them about why they got involved, and what it is about volunteering that they love. Hear some of their thoughts below – and if you think you’d like to try volunteering yourself, take a look at our volunteering opportunities.
I wanted to use my own lived experience of an eating disorder and my recovery to help and support another young person going through a similar experience.
Why did you want to volunteer for us?
[Beat] were a charity that helped me when I was struggling with my own eating disorder, so I wanted to be able to give others in that situation the same chance to be heard and supported that I got.
I would like to work with people suffering with eating disorders in the future so I thought it would be a good chance to develop my skills.
Having been a parent of someone living with an eating disorder, (now recovered) it seemed ideal to be able to support others. When you really feel you are able to make a little bit of a difference to someone with such challenges, it can be very uplifting.
What kind of support do you get?
When I was a digital volunteer, I really valued the comprehensive training [and] the ongoing support when on a shift.
The training was thorough and the Beat volunteer team very friendly, approachable and welcoming. Everyone at Beat is always so grateful for the time we give and make us feel valued as volunteers, and we are supported with all the chats we take so we never feel out of our depth.
Once I started, I was given lots of information to read through, which is important to help guide [the support I give]. I always receive regular emails from Beat about other opportunities and training, and there is a platform for other volunteers to ask questions. The volunteer coordinators at Beat are lovely and really down to earth. I always know if I am unsure about anything, I can ask without judgement .
From the moment I applied, the Beat staff have been on hand to answer any questions or for advice and support. Despite offering support as a volunteer, the Beat staff really care about you too and really encourage self care and for us to look after ourselves, which is brilliant. I also received really helpful training at the beginning and we get ongoing feedback - so you really do learn a lot too.
What do you like most about volunteering?
It can be an honour to perhaps be the first person someone has opened up to, or that I have given them the confidence in taking the first step in recovery, or to boost them to keep going even though it is tough.
The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those affected by these conditions. I am also gaining a sense of personal fulfilment and satisfaction from my contributions.
I really like getting to know my young person and enjoy being able to provide a listening ear, thinking about their individual experience and what I can suggest and signpost them to in order to aid their recovery. I hope to show others that recovery is possible.
I have been a volunteer for 14 months now and I like the variety that each shift brings. Knowing people have somewhere to reach out to when they are struggling in a predominantly isolated way, and that service users can feel heard and understood is invaluable.
What have you learned?
I've really strengthened my communication, affirmation and advisory skills. I've found myself replicating the techniques I use in chats in real life, when helping out friends, and have seen positive results.
I learned a lot in the process of training for the role about safeguarding and how to encourage someone in the right ways and sign post them to other help where appropriate.
I have learnt a lot of skills at Beat, some examples are motivational interviewing, learning to create boundaries in therapeutic relationships, improving my initiative, learning to safeguard and risk assess.
I’ve learnt so much about a multitude of eating disorders and how to deal with a variety of situations that can crop up when supporting a plethora of people.
By sharing your valuable time, skills and experiences with us, you can become part of a committed team, working together to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders.