Volunteering with Healthwatch Bradford and District: Liam's story

Liam, 31, from Bingley, wanted to develop his skills and confidence in an unpaid role. He shares how he volunteers with Healthwatch Bradford and District and how volunteering has made a difference to his confidence and mental health.

Finding volunteer work to develop office skills

I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 2010, and since then my health has fluctuated. During a period of improvement in 2015, I got to the point where I thought I was capable of part-time work. I did work experience in the Job Centre at Keighley for a month, but soon realised that I didn’t want to work in a public facing role and my at the same time my health worsened.

At the end of 2018 I looked again for work experience or a volunteering opportunity, to see if I was able to physically manage part-time work in an office, and without the pressure of being relied on.

The opportunity to volunteer with Healthwatch Bradford and District looked very interesting, would allow me to develop many different skills, and suited my personal circumstances. 

The journey from applying to volunteer to now

After applying for the role I got a quick reply. I was invited to an informal interview to go through what the role involved and what I was wanting to get from volunteering, as well as being introduced to members of the staff and volunteer team.

During the first few weeks with Healthwatch Bradford and District, I went through an induction with a few other people who wanted to volunteer. Together, we played a couple of games to break the ice: one was to challenge our listening skills and the assumptions we make, so we can capture accurate and objective feedback on health and social care services. The second game was to get to know each other better: we wrote down two truths and a lie about ourselves and the others in the group had the task of guessing which statement was a lie.  We also became familiar with the Healthwatch policies and procedures.

Over the last 10 months I have been volunteering at the Central Hall office in Keighley. The tasks that I have been doing include entering the public's feedback of health and social care services into a database. I have also researched campaigns and done general office administration such as filing, shredding and scanning documents. 

Through volunteering with Healthwatch Bradford and District, my confidence and overall mental health has increased. This is down to meeting new people, connecting with the local community and knowing that the activities that I have done help to improve health and social care services.

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