This week is Volunteers Week! All week we will be talking to some of our fantastic volunteers asking them why they became a volunteer and what benefits they get from volunteering with Epilepsy Scotland.
Kim shares why she became a volunteer with Epilepsy Scotland.
How did you get involved with Epilepsy Scotland?
I first got involved with Epilepsy Scotland through an ad that my mum had found. Not long since I had been diagnosed with epilepsy and I had come home for the summer after my 3rd year of university.
I was in a bad place, built up of negative emotions of being diagnosed with a long-term condition plus other experiences that happened in university that drastically brought my mood down.
My mum recommended me to phone up Epilepsy Scotland, as they might be able to help with problems that I may have and would also help me understand my condition and perhaps give me closure.
I then phoned up and took part in their pilot project were they supported me and provided mindful meditation classes which I attended.
I found both the support and meditation classes and meeting similar people with epilepsy, gave me a sense of place and a sense of calming.
Why did you decide to become a volunteer?
After meeting people who had the same condition and seeing how some had worse seizures than others, I wanted to help in anyway I could.
I have a strong interest in mental health as I design jewellery that helps those experiencing anxiety and depression and I continue to research and watch self-help videos that help with these things as I also have anxieties as well.
Being a volunteer helps me understand people as well as getting supported by staff if I feel troubled as well. I just want to help people and I just feel like volunteering can help make a difference to someone’s day.
Can you give some examples of what your volunteering has involved?
Being a volunteer has involved me being a buddy or a befriender to someone when support groups happen.
I like the format of this as its in a relaxed and chilled out setting were staff and volunteers show up to the group and chat to folk. Could be about their day or upcoming week or their hobbies. Anything really.
It’s a good space to say anything you want and not be judged, as you know people are there to help, its just being brave and reaching out.
What has been the best part about volunteering with Epilepsy Scotland?
The best part about volunteering with Epilepsy Scotland is meeting people as I find everyone gives a different perspective of life and its just nice to brighten someone’s day or even interacting with people.
Coronavirus and lockdowns have created this isolation with people so having that digital point of contact could make a difference to someone’s day as it may be the only conversation they may have during this strange time.
With these groups I find it’s a place were you can say what’s on your mind.
What has been your proudest volunteering moment with Epilepsy Scotland?
I’m not sure if I have a “proudest” moment but I like to help someone and give advice to people if I feel like they need it.
It is always interesting to here about other peoples lives and connecting with others as you never know you might find you may have a lot more in common with people that you’ve never met.
Epilepsy Scotland has also giving me a platform to display my jewellery designs. I am very grateful for them as I made some jewellery from my degree show and they allowed me to exhibit it in their office and also for it to be displayed in a gallery.
There was a lot of interest and buyers, which gave me the confidence to think people like my work and it would be nice if more opportunities like this, arose.
What do you think you’ve gained from volunteering?
I feel like I’ve gained a lot of understanding of what epilepsy is and the differences that occur that people go through.
I’ve learned to engage with people better and learn a lot about myself in terms of improving my communication skills and treating people in a better manner.
Not only that I feel interacting with people has given me better insights and new perspectives to look at things differently, it has also opened my mind a bit more to the world and how to look at it.
What would you say to someone who is looking to be a volunteer for Epilepsy Scotland?
Being a volunteer will definitely help you learn more about yourself and your condition.
Meeting like-minded people who are there to support you and for you to support them.
There’s no pressure in the role and I feel the experience is geared towards your own personal development as well as engaging and growing with people and passing on knowledge and wisdom from your own experiences.
Volunteering also provides a safe space to engage with people and staff and no one ever feels left out and if you feel down or unable to make a volunteer session there is no pressure.
The staff are very understanding about personal boundaries as this is something I have learned when volunteering that you don’t always need to be “on”.
You’re aloud to feel down as its what makes us human.
You can check out Kim’s jewellery designs on her website by clicking here.
If you would like to volunteer for Epilepsy Scotland, please email our Fundraising and Volunteer Coordinator, Linzi Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 427 4911.