I started volunteering with Aberlour’s befriending service in October 2020. I had suffered from anxiety and depression. As part of my efforts to improve my mental health, I wanted to find new ways to engage positively with my local community and contribute towards improving it in some way.
I had already started volunteering elsewhere as a mentor and the positivity I felt as a result helped me to gain a valuable perspective on what I could do to help myself and others. I felt, and continue to feel, like I had something positive to offer people experiencing difficulties in their lives.
Volunteering has helped massively to improve my self-esteem and has given me the encouragement and belief that I can do more to help others with the additional bonus of helping myself as a result.
Aberlour was the right choice for me
It was my wife who first introduced me to Aberlour. Like a dutiful husband, I trusted her judgement and applied to become a befriender because she recommended it. My wife is full of good ideas and through her work as a teacher and her role as pupil support, she has wide ranging knowledge of organisations that offer support to children and young people in need. She sent me some information on Aberlour and it resonated strongly with my desire to help young people and instinctively I felt Aberlour was the right choice for me.
free from judgement
I aim to meet weekly with my match and we spend time together, providing them with some respite from the challenges in their life and an opportunity to talk about whatever they like. It can be serious and profound discussions about their life, or sharing jokes and stories from our mis-spent youths or cycling together, enjoying some fresh air and exploring new places. It’s a chance for my match to spend our time together in the most beneficial way to them at that moment, be it exploring issues safely and free from judgement or leaving those issues behind and finding new ways to occupy their time and head space. I’ve found that getting to know each other in a pressure free environment, building a rapport and establishing trust by walking and talking has been a very simple but productive and positive way to share our time together.
I’m making a positive impact on someone’s life
What I like about volunteering for Aberlour is getting to know new people from walks of life that I might not have crossed paths with otherwise, that has been refreshing and enjoyable. Feeling good about my role in the world and hearing about the positive impact I’ve made on someone else’s life has made me feel really good about myself too. I have further developed my listening skills, my ability to empathise and my understanding of what it is to play a productive role in my community. Through the training provided I have gained valuable knowledge of the theory behind my volunteering role and have taken that knowledge and applied it to my own life which has benefitted me greatly and improved my ability to help others.
Volunteering has shown the young person and family I work with that they are valued members of a shared society and that they can rely on that society to help them through difficult situations. It has helped to boost their self-esteem and self-worth and that has helped them to support those around them too.
I would definitely encourage others to volunteer for Aberlour. It’s incredibly rewarding for both those that volunteer and the people we support. It makes you feel good about yourself and in some small way it makes the world a better place. What’s not to like about that?