What is your role as a volunteer at First Steps
I have only recently joined the social media team for First Steps, with an interest in helping to contribute ideas and create new content for the social media, website and newsletters. I hope to tell real stories of what it is like to suffer from mental health illnesses such as eating disorders, so that people can feel understood and not alone.
So far, I have been drafting new content ideas for social media that includes interactive, supportive and informative content. I enjoy writing and am very interested in hearing different stories, so I hope to get involved in learning and sharing these experiences to help others.
What made you want to volunteer for First Steps
I was a service user of First Steps a couple of years ago now and I had never seen so much support and different approaches for people with eating disorders.
It was a while before my own Eating Disorder was diagnosed and I was referred to get help so I thought that it was just something that didn’t have much support. However, when I went to First Steps I felt like I was being listened to and understood – as I had found it very hard to explain to my family, friends and even my doctor.
It was obvious to me that the staff were passionate about helping people and I wanted to be a part of the team and share my experience to help others too.
How was the transition from service user to volunteer
I feel now that I am able to spot my old Eating Disorder thoughts and habits before they take hold of me and so, I think it would be useful to share how I’ve learned how to do that.
I didn’t really make a lot of friends at university and found it useful to have a befriender to share my worries and thoughts with and also prepare me to talk to my friends and family a little later on.
Being a volunteer makes me believe that you won’t be taken down by negative thoughts and a vicious cycle of an Eating Disorder. Also, it helps me to be involved in the positivity and encouragement of First Steps.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering
The feeling of not being alone and being understood and being able to make others feel that too. I don’t think anybody can feel and think exactly the same things but being able to relate to people’s experiences means that it is less likely someone will catastrophise or criticize their thoughts and feelings too much.
Also, I think there is such a need to be kind to ourselves and other more than ever and volunteering gives you that opportunity to spread support.
What would you say to others who are interested in becoming volunteers
If you believe and are passionate about First Steps values, then you have what it takes to be a helpful volunteer.
It is a role that can make a big difference to somebody’s life and it is appreciated so much. First Steps is the most friendly and supportive environment to be apart of and it really makes you realise how important it is to have somebody who can try to understand and listen.