Our Wellbeing Manager, Vicki Burns looks at the importance of our buddy volunteers who play an essential role in our breathing & relaxation and support groups.
Every year, in the first week of June, organisations across the UK celebrate the amazing contribution their volunteers make. It is our way of saying thank you to these brilliant people who give their time to make a difference.
This year has understandably had to be different from the way we have done things in the past. We have not been able to hold our usual tea parties and bring our volunteers together.
However, COVID19 hasn’t been able to dull our gratitude for our fantastic volunteers that assist us to support people with epilepsy throughout the year.
This week, we have been using social media to shine the light on our volunteer fundraisers, youth group assistants and administrators.
The Wellbeing Project provides support for people with epilepsy who feel anxious, stressed or isolated. We offer one-to-one and group support. These give people the tools to cope with the emotional issues that often go hand-in-hand with a diagnosis of epilepsy.
Volunteer’s Week gives us the chance to draw attention to an amazing group of volunteers who usually hide from the limelight but are an integral part of the Wellbeing team.
Our buddy volunteers are all people with direct lived experience of epilepsy who play an essential role in our breathing & relaxation and support groups.
After attending two short and informal training sessions they support new members to take part, lead conversations and offer their experience when others have queries.
Their contribution is usually named as the main reason our participants come along to the groups. Also, they have been as diligent in their role at our online groups as they are at our physical groups.
“I wasn’t actually keen on the idea of the groups at first. But everyone was so friendly and it’s actually now the most helpful thing for me to hear from others who have the same experience.” New wellbeing participant.
Here at Epilepsy Scotland we can’t thank our Buddy Volunteers enough. Also, we want to use Volunteers’ Week to draw attention to the enormous benefits that volunteering can bring to the volunteer themselves.
Benefits of volunteering
In the National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Time Well Spent 2018 survey, 90% of the volunteers reported that they reported a sense of personal achievement. They also felt that they make a difference.
77% agreed volunteering improves their mental health and wellbeing and 68% said it made them feel less isolated.
Our own buddy volunteers agree that it has been an important part of their own acceptance of their condition and an increased sense of purpose.
“Epilepsy means I’ve had to put my chosen career on hold for the moment. However, being part of the Wellbeing Project has helped me refocus. Ok, I can’t achieve my career goals right now but I can still help people. I can still share my knowledge. I can still help people develop their self-esteem. It’s made me happier and it’s not a tablet or a pill.” Buddy Volunteer
If you have lived experience of epilepsy and would like to get involved in the Wellbeing Project we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0141 427 4911.
In the meantime I’d like to wish all our Epilepsy Scotland a very happy volunteers’ week. We look forward to seeing you soon to celebrate in person!