How volunteering for The Mix has helped me cope with loneliness
Volunteering to connect with others
Volunteering can be an amazing way to connect with others. We spoke to some of our lovely volunteers about how volunteering for The Mix has helped them to cope with loneliness during the past year.
Alice’s volunteering story
This past year has been incredibly challenging for many people, including those (like myself) who have been lucky enough to not have suffered from mental illness or be struck by bouts of bad mental health in the past.
Nonetheless, as an emotionally expressive person, I’ve always dealt with challenges in my life by talking things through with those close to me, and I’ve found it difficult not being able to see my friends and family to talk things through and to connect in person.
I signed up to volunteer with The Mix as a small way to give back, by offering emotional support to those that don’t have a support network or are unable to easily talk about their feelings. But this year, it’s been a coping mechanism for me, to feel connected to other people, and by knowing that in a small way, I am helping others feel better.
Helping others really is a means to help yourself, and I harbour hope that the upheaval to our usual pace of life, might lead to a more supportive society in a post-covid world.
Aidan’s volunteering story
I was really struggling with my mental health when I first joined The Mix’s community – the difference it made to me inspired me to start volunteering and try to make that difference in other people’s lives too. It’s not as bad as it once was, but my depression still shadows me and I sometimes still feel so isolated in the darkness; but the community and fellow volunteers I work with have their own experiences too and are so empathetic and kind, it really does make me feel less alone. Volunteering has also given me more routine and purpose and space to grow as a person, which has also helped me tackle my feelings of loneliness.
Since COVID and the restrictions, I’ve been unable to see my mates and a lot of my family, but volunteering has still been a chance to meet new people in Group Chat and at the volunteer socials! I know a lot of people come to Group Chat because they might be feeling alone or have nobody to talk to – because of my own experiences with feelings of isolation, it’s been especially rewarding to have a part in helping people out in the same boat. It helps me out too.
Andrea’s volunteering story
In January 2020 I was a mother of two. Married. Employed. About to get back to work after my maternity leave. Even though it was not clear how the year would unfold, I was excited and motivated to get back to work. February 14th, I received an invitation for a work-related conference call. It was an announcement for restructuring and lay-offs and meant I was made redundant.
From that day on things changed. I had worked for the company for eight years, I had been looking forward to seeing my colleagues, some of which became friends. Instead, I had endless calls and conversations with lawyers, HR and colleagues about my rights and the redundancy, which made me feel very insecure. Work was always an important pillar in my life for conversations to stay connected and feel appreciated for what I do well.
On top of that, the pandemic had just started to unfold. News started to report about the virus and a lockdown was about to happen, all of which was adding to me feeling cut off. I had my family and friends of course but a big part of my communication with people has stopped within a few weeks. I started to feel left out and lonely.
My first training as Digital Connector at the Mix took place in March. It gave me a chance to do something with purpose, stay connected and help others, but also myself. The training was intense, but interesting. I remember feeling nervous at the beginning to answer live chats. However, the amazing team of volunteers and shift leaders made me feel so welcome and simply were the best form of connection to battle my feelings of loneliness. I felt motivated and useful again. It also helped me to learn how to talk about my own feelings and communicate them based on the methodology and principles we use with young adults.
I can honestly say that volunteering for The Mix has saved me and kept me going during lockdown. I am proud of myself for taking the step of applying at a low point of my life. And I couldn’t be happier to be part of the team. Looking forward to my next shift already.
To find support for loneliness and to join The Mix’s watch club with NOW, take a look at our loneliness page.
By Holly Turner
Updated on 05-May-2021
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