Samantha volunteers with Nottinghamshire Healthcare as a Befriender at Arnold Lodge. You can follow her online on Twitter and Instagram.
Living through my own experience of complex trauma for many years has not been easy. Still, I feel very fortunate on the other side of significant difficulties with my mental and emotional health.
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.
As soon as I spotted the opportunity to become a Befriender at Arnold Lodge – that was it. I knew that I 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. 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.
The feedback so far from the hospital staff involved has been heart-warming. They have witnessed a difference in these two people with having that connection. As my befriending experience continues, I hope that I can help these people to build their self-esteem and self-confidence because that alone makes such a difference in one’s life. I’m looking forward to meeting face to face with each person, as no email or phone call can replace real-life in-person conversation.
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. 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.
Samantha Houghton, Befriender.
During Volunteer’s Week, we’re sharing our volunteer’s stories about their roles and what they enjoy about volunteering. If you’d like to get involved or volunteer for Nottinghamshire Healthcare, take a look at our current volunteering opportunities.
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