Volunteering as a carer

coverWelcome to another blog post from mental health carer in South London Matthew Mckenzie. Now as you can guess from my blogsite, I keep myself fairly busy, even though I am carrying out support and care for a loved one. Throughout my years of experience as a mental health carer, I know there are many things I can share in order to help others. Most of the time I give my views at meetings, focus groups or committees. So if there is a way I can help, I will certainly give it a try.

So why do I do this? Arent carers going through financial problems as it is already? Plus with all the social welfare cuts and the benefit cuts that affect carers loved ones. Why should carers give up their time? Well part of the answer is unfortunately carers cannot fully depend on the state to support them and will have to look to the community. I feel it is so important carers give up some of their time to help others; be it other carers, service users or even community groups.

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So this is why I have decided to blog about volunteering. As a volunteer I feel not only am I lending my skills but also gaining experience no matter what the task. There can be a sense of achievement that you get out of volunteering because you are devoting your time to something you care about. It does not have to be about money.

There are times of course that we must feel valued and money or incentives can show to others how much you are worth to them. Still, there are a number of problems when you expect to get paid from many different sources. Many community groups are desperately lacking resources and skill-sets, if they could pay I am sure many would, so it is obvious that giving up some of your time can really help make a difference.

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Volunteering does not have to be carried out all the time, nor does it have to be exhaustive, we can all do our bit and take it one step at a time. I know many carers can put in their time to give their views at workshops, focus groups, committees and steering groups. It seems like a lot to ask, especially if you are caring in crisis, no one has the right to ask any more of you, but deep down I know it will make such a difference to so many out there requesting help and support.

I am fortunate enough to be working as well, plus some voluntary work is paid, but there will be times when I take on a task because I know being there will make some difference. Volunteering can also give life even more meaning than focusing on material things. Why should it be the poor helping the poor? I also have seen the well-off put in a lot of time to community projects, this is because they are giving something back to society.

I have made a video all about volunteering, which I hope you enjoy.

As a carer, I can only hope those who have gone through the same situation as myself can manage to try and put in some time to step up and give it a go. We can feel part of the community and make a difference. No task is too small where we can’t provide some assistance, volunteering is also a great way to make new friends as you socialise and network with others. Let us carers branch out with our common interest to make a difference for others looking for volunteers. As carers we can develop a stronger sense of purpose as we all work together to form a caring community, a caring society.

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It makes no use complaining and asking for change, there must come a time when we need make ourselves present and help others.

So where should carers try and volunteer?

Help out at a local Carers center.
Take part in surveys and focus groups.
Help in carrying out service assessments.
Give views and attend meetings.
Feedback ideas.
Telling their story as a Carer
Help set up events.
Attend training courses to gather useful skills to help out.
Become a representative.

20150915_105152 20150915_145715_1 Matthew Mckenzie

This is only just a short list and there are many more places carers can help out. I hope I have inspired you to make a change, but before I end this blog always review what you are volunteering for and never feel pressured to do something you do not want to do, after all we all need to look after ourselves.