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Post | June 2024 | For volunteers | 2 min read

Championing mental health: Clare's story

Written by Laura Bazley

Clare (pictured centre) is an Expert by Experience Leader volunteer at Rethink, a charity dedicated to enhancing the well-being of people impacted by mental health.

She is also an Open Mental Health Champion (OMH) and Volunteer Ambassador for Spark Somerset, and has a passion for promoting mental wellness.

In this blog, Clare shares her mental health journey and how it inspired her to volunteer. Now, she uses her experience to assist others in their recovery.

"I have many volunteer roles now, the majority focus on mental health, from supporting others through peer work, to signposting, to using my lived experience within the Open Mental Health alliance to help evaluate and design services.


"It’s rewarding to know that my experience helps organisations deepen their understanding of mental ill health needs so that they can tailor their services and support.


"Being a peer helps people feel less alone in the world. When they can speak with someone who also has lived experience, there is a much deeper level of understanding that no amount of education could teach you.

"Volunteering as an Expert by Experience Leader and with Open Mental Health has been incredibly rewarding. Being let into their world and seeing just how hard they work behind the scenes to improve mental healthcare for us all has been incredibly healing, and a real privilege to be a part of.

"I haven't worked since 2017 due to my health, so I was worried that when I became ready for employment again, my CV would have a large hole in it. Thankfully, volunteering has given me so many new transferable skills to include that I'm no longer concerned.


"I’d recommend volunteering to others because it's an opportunity to try out different roles, learn new skills and get to know yourself better without any pressure. It’s enabled me to find out what I enjoy, and where I want to take my future.

You are in control of the pace and can do as much or as little as you choose, but the community and knowledge that you are helping others soon has you signing up for more!. You can meet so many new and lovely people, often with a similar mindset to you and some become friends.

"The opportunities and ways to get involved with volunteering are so diverse and all your efforts and time feel truly appreciated. I didn't understand just how much I would gain from volunteering, and I wish I'd known sooner. I'm incredibly grateful for all the opportunities and support I've been given; I don't see a future without volunteering now."

Val Keeble, Open Mental Health Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, at Spark Somerset commented:

"Clare's determination, infectious enthusiasm, and unwavering passion for aiding others are truly inspiring. She actively connects with various groups and individuals, listening attentively and showing utmost respect. As part an OMH Champion, Clare is instrumental in the Community Engagement Project, always advocating for OMH and ensuring community voices shape service delivery."

If Clare's story has inspired you to get involved in volunteering with OMH, click the link below to see their current opportunities.


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