April 28, 2021

Thank you for volunteering!

Matt Smith

It’s national volunteers’ week and I wanted to write a short blog about the benefits of volunteering. But first, a big thanks to all our wonderful volunteers who give up their time and energy to help others – without you Peer Aid wouldn’t be possible so we are grateful to each one of our peer aid supporters.

Where would we be now without volunteers during the covid-19 pandemic? So many people, communities and organisations helping one another. In my case I reached out to a local group in the midlands so that my 79-year-old mother (whom I live 3 hours away from) would have difficulty doing her jobs and shopping, within 15 mins I had numerous offers of support; this renewed my faith in humanity. There are some very kind souls out there helping those who may not have family or friends and are desperately in need.

Volunteering to me was something I had never really considered until I entered recovery for a chronic gambling problem over 6 and a half years ago. I don’t often talk about it, but I regularly offer my time to individuals and organisations. Not only does it help them but has helped me no end to boost my self-esteem and find my voice again.

Why is volunteering important? It can help to build new skills and experiences as well as using those you have to help others. For us at Peer Aid we utilise the lived experience of our volunteers to support those who are currently suffering from gambling related harms. The soft skills our team have such as empathy, kindness and understanding are extremely important to the service. We call it the nodding dog syndrome when one of us speaks others identify by having been where that person has too. It also helps with stress and anxiety as well as being a tool to combat depression.

Ironically the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise to peer aid in the sense that we have been able to quickly adapt from being a pilot scheme in London offering face to face sessions to a digital service working across the British Isles. We are continuing to grow our team of volunteers and should you be interested please take a look at the peer aid section here on our website.

A fun fact for you that in 2018/2019 over 19 million people volunteered at least once in the year.

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