Case Studies

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

I volunteer with Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, the Witness Service (Citizens Advice Bureau) and Genetic Alliance UK.

Mental health is an issue close to my heart due to the struggles I had when I was young. Mental health isn't spoken of to an extent which is anywhere near relative to the number of people affected. In the last twelve months, the conversation is really starting to happen and I couldn't be happier with the contribution that I have made to that end.

One of the things that I enjoy so much about working with Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind is that my roles are so varied. It really helps me to get to know the organisation as a whole and the people within it much better.

My roles vary from influencing policy at the sub-group committee to peer support, the anti-stigma workshop and appearing on local television and radio news to promote Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind and its policies and incentives. Almost every time I set foot in the building is for a different reason and I love that.

Volunteering is so, so, so good for your state of mind. From the people you meet and the work that you do, to how well you get treated by organisations because of the nature of you offering your own free time. Volunteering has taught me what I really want from my life and that is a positive contribution to the society around me. It is a potential route map through life that I hope to follow for the rest of my days and it all started here with Volun-tees.

I've really developed a passion for advocacy through my voluntary work and I hope to pursue that from this point forward. I've managed to secure a place on the super competitive European Patients Forum advocacy training course in Vienna this July. I'll be travelling to Austria to really try and develop my skills within advocacy in order to maximise the positive impact I can have on the world around me. The tip I would give to future volunteers would be say 'yes' to as many opportunities as possible and make the time to accommodate them. Attend each volunteer role three times before you decide it isn't for you. Cast the net far and wide and reap the rewards.