Across the Isle of Wight and Hampshire we have seen a fantastic increase in volunteer engagement numbers, helping to make an enormous difference to the lives of those that we support.

Our recovery communities and volunteering, along with our peer-led mentoring, is critical to the success that we see in the recovery of our service users. We have been so pleased to see that since the COVID-19 pandemic started there has been an upsurge in volunteers offering to help out with things such as conducting miniature welfare checks with service users and coordinating other activities to help keep people engaged and feeling positive.

Matthew Shipperly, a volunteer coordinator across our nine sites in Hampshire said: “When a service user wants to start volunteering, we encourage it as it supports their recovery journey. So, we have very minimal relapses in our programme which says a lot.”

While many of our volunteers are family carers, concerned members of the community, or even retired drug and alcohol workers, most have a lived experience of recovery themselves. This includes Preston, who was invited by his key worker at Inclusion to volunteer. He explained:

“Becoming a volunteer has been nothing shy of amazing. It has played a massive part in every area of my life. I have been able to get so involved and my role is growing and developing constantly. The program itself is amazing and the support of every single colleague has been superb. I found myself helping and assisting service users as well as facilitating groups. As things progressed with training, attending events and new challenges it has become something I nurture. I now believe that anything is possible, and I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”

Across our Inclusion services we invest heavily in our volunteering programmes, and while the number of hours that volunteers can do is regulated, the work that they do plays a crucial part in enhancing the service that is provided by our doctors, nurses, psychologists and non-medical prescribers. It is an investment we our happy to do as well as many of our volunteers use their experience gained to help them secure employment.

Paul, one of our engagement worker at Inclusion, was originally a service user who then went on to volunteer and then went on to be employed by Inclusion. He explained: “I went from someone who was often too anxious to attend groups to being able to facilitate them. In 2019 I was accepted to be employed as an Engagement Worker at Inclusion and finally I found a vocation that I truly love. I look forward to going to work each day and the team I work with are brilliant.”

The scale of the inspiring work, and the time that’s invested, by our volunteers is incredible. They are a huge part of the recovery communities and we would not be able to do our work without them. If you are one of our service users and are interested in volunteering then please ask your recovery worker for details.