Chat with us, powered by LiveChat
Post | January 2023 | For volunteers | 3 min read

Chris's Story

Written by Laura Bazley
Chris Malin

Chris Malin is a Peer Volunteer for Second Step, a charity which offers housing and support to people with mental health issues in the South West.   

Having struggled with his own mental health, Chris first came into contact with Second Step when he needed their help as a client. Here, he explains how his experience led to him becoming a volunteer and helping others on their road to recovery. 


"When I first arrived at Second Step, I was in a bad way. I was suicidal, self-harming, extremely anxious and very depressed. But Second Step (especially my now supervisor, Robyn) really helped me. 

"I think if you have received help that has been of a benefit to you and established a strong ‘wellness toolkit’ then it’s good to share this with others. So, when Second Step asked me if I would like to become a Peer Volunteer, I jumped at the opportunity.

"As a Peer Volunteer I sit in face-to-face sessions with a senior member of staff and assist where appropriate, or just listen if that’s what’s best for the client. I also work with clients who no longer need a senior staff member’s help and as a volunteer I can support them, mainly by telephone. I also write up session notes, carry out research where needed to get the client some additional support and answer the phone when required. 

"The benefit for Second Step is that the senior members of staff can concentrate on the most vulnerable people, and I can deal with those who need less help and spend more time talking to them and providing support. 

"Since becoming a volunteer, I feel my skills have grown massively; I am teaching what I practice and that in turn benefits my clients. I was concerned that supporting others might affect my own mental health but it has actually made my mindset stronger. 

"Every person who comes through our door has different life experiences, some might mirror my own but others may not. But if you are able to, sharing your life experiences and your own personal ‘wellness toolkit’ is a great way of giving back."

Three months into his voluntary role, Chris was invited to interview for a paid role within Second Step as a Crisis Worker. His application was successful and he is now looking forward to embarking on a new career within the mental health community. 

“This position will be very different from my previous work, but my voluntary role has given me plenty of transferable skills. I can now share my experiences with my clients which gives me a better understanding of how to help them." 

Robyn Butler, Senior Recovery Navigator at Second Step, comments: 

"Chris has been able to support people who use our service with the experience and learning he has developed through his own mental health journey. The support that peer volunteers bring to our service is invaluable. 

“Second Step recruits dedicated people with a variety of different skills and experience. We welcome those who may have their own lived experience of mental health and complex issues and are committed to ensuring anyone struggling with poor mental health can access the right support at the right time.” 


Second Step is a member of Open Mental Health, an alliance of organisations working together to ensure that people living with mental health problems get the support they need, when they need it.  

If Chris's story has inspired you to get involved in volunteering, click on the link below to see the current opportunities available within Open Mental Health.  

To find out more about volunteering with Second step, click here.

Share Post
Related Posts
Photo of Alison planting a tree

Alison's Story

| For volunteers
Since retiring, Alison Templeton, who worked in a variety of roles within local authorities, has returned to ...
See more
Photo of woman looking away from camera and into distance

Gabi's Story

| For volunteers
Gabi was referred to the Open Mental Health Buddy scheme by her local job club. Due to long-term physical and ...
See more
Picture of a rescued hedgehog

Esmee's Story

| For volunteers
Esmee, a level 3 Animal Studies student at Weston College, started volunteering with Prickles Hedgehog Rescue ...
See more