Gavin began using the Activities service at York Mind at the beginning of lockdown to help his own mental health and to alleviate some of the isolation he was feeling.
He had been dealing with his Mum’s mental health illness the previous year which eventually lead to her taking her own life. Gavin knew he needed to get involved with something so he didn’t spiral too far downwards.
He registered with a number of free group activities available at York Mind, including Peer Support and Creative Writing, but soon progressed to being involved in more and more groups realising how much his own wellbeing was benefiting from them.
After several months, he decided he wanted to give back.
Having experienced most activities available, he started volunteering 3 days a week and even though a lot of it was on Zoom during lockdown, he began to feel more himself again, more part of the world and really welcomed seeing new faces again.
I started to feel I had a purpose and was useful again. Volunteering became my own road to recovery.
His volunteering role saw him support the team processing enrolment forms for new clients, speaking to the people who were contacting the team for help and assistance, and using his own experience of groups to help others understand how activity groups could help them.
Gavin found himself giving reassurance to people, and helping people by simply being there to talk things through. He feels volunteering has been an absolute saviour .
Volunteering has given me a purpose in life. I would recommend it to anyone, no matter how many hours it is, a week/month or year you can offer. I feel volunteering gives you a sense of fulfilment, achievement and a realisation that you are not just helping other people, but helping yourself too. It keeps you busy, enables you to interact with lots of different people at the same time as supporting a wonderful charity giving help to people who really need it.
The Activities programme at York Mind has a big positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many York residents. It is very varied, covering guided learning, wellbeing and lots of different social activities. What’s more, all activities are free.
These activities save many people’s mental health from deteriorating, giving them support through relationship breakdowns, job losses, and Covid and its ongoing uncertainty. For some participants, the programme prevents them engaging with suicidal thoughts and has kept families together.
Gavin experienced it first hand.
And with that experience comes reward.
Gavin has now joined the York Mind team in a paid role as the Administrator for their Activities.
He has moved from being supported by them to being employed to support others for them.
To get involved with Activities at Mind check out their comprehensive
Mental Health and Well-Being Activities Programme.