Paula's Story

My name is Paula. I volunteer for the Active Body, Healthy Mind project where I am assisting someone to go swimming.

Me and the person I am supporting start the day by meeting up at a bus station to drive to the Four Pillars spa. This bus journey is really fun, as it gives you some time to talk to person you're working with about their week and how he/she has been.

When we arrive at the spa area of the hotel, we get ready to do some sport. I usually assist the person when he/she walks into the pool and then we do some exercise while chatting to each other and occasionally give a "high-five" when something has gone particularly well. This is followed by a short break in the jacuzzi where we might chat with other gym-goers. Afterwards, we try and swim some more and then get ready to head home.

I find volunteering for Oxfordshire Mind really fun. I look forward to seeing the people I'm supporting every week and I also like talking to them about really random things that do not involve mental health. I also like making them laugh because I think laughing is quite important. Working for Oxfordshire Mind (especially the Active Body, Healthy Mind project) has given me some practical experiences in helping someone reaching a goal, and it has shown me that some encouragement and motivational talk can help people accomplish their goals all by themselves.

People should volunteer because it is fun and it is something different to everyday life. It gives you a chance to help someone, or just make someone laugh and feel good about themselves. It is a great experience and makes you feel like you have positively influenced someone else's life.

The staff and other volunteers are very supportive and if you feel uncomfortable with anything or find something challenging, they will be there to help you and support you. It is a great and safe environment to get some real-life work experience. I don't see a reason for why anyone who likes working with people would not enjoy this experience. It is something you will never forget.