Caring Nottinghamshire woman reveals how volunteering is helping to make a difference to others
A Nottinghamshire woman who has overcome her ‘own experience of complex trauma for many years’ has spoken of how working as a volunteer has helped her to make a difference to others facing similar struggles.
To mark Volunteers’ Week – which runs until Monday (June 7) – Nottinghamshire Healthcare is celebrating and recognising the ‘fantastic work’ of its volunteers.
The trust has 185 registered volunteers who give hundreds of hours of their time every week supporting staff, patients and their families – bringing skills, knowledge and a desire to make a difference to its services and the lives of the people it cares for.
One volunteer is Sam Houghton and she has revealed how she feels very fortunate to be on the other side of significant difficulties with her mental and emotional health and has spoken about how this has helped her make a difference to people who have endured similar struggles.
“Living through my own experience of complex trauma for many years has not been easy,” said Sam, who has been a volunteer with the trust for two months.
"When I was looking for voluntary work, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people that have endured significant and similar long-term struggles.
"I have the empathy and compassion to share because I have a pretty good idea of what it feels like to walk that path.”
Sam said when she found out about an opportunity to become a befriender at a medium secure unit, she knew she had ‘found what I was looking for and made my application’.
"Although Covid delayed the process, I pursued the befriender training online once my references were cleared,” she said. “Not too long afterwards, the unit matched me with two people.
“For the last few weeks, I have been building a wonderful rapport and a gradual befriending relationship with each person. We’ve been exchanging letters, photos and other supportive correspondence via emails, which has progressed into a weekly phone call with one of the people.
“I have loved every moment of this rewarding opportunity. It allows me the chance to “give back” to vulnerable people who do not have any friends or family in their lives. Nobody should be in that lonely position, especially when living through severe mental health problems.
"Genuine human connection and sincere interest from another friendly face can make a world of difference. It is something we all need in our lives.”
Sam also revealed how the feedback she has received so far from hospital staff has been ‘heart-warming’ and that she hopes to continue to help people to build their self-esteem and self-confidence.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity and the support provided that has allowed me to befriend in this way for people in a place that I genuinely care about,” she said.
"The volunteer service has been very supportive in making this happen and the regular meetings and training has been invaluable. Finding purpose in what was once a great struggle is the most fulfilling journey, and I aim to do a lot more in the future to make a difference.”
For more information on the trust’s volunteering services visit www.nottinghamshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/volunteer-with-us