Katie Nunwick writes about her experience volunteering at Anxiety UK for one week in April.
My employer NHS England has a volunteer leave policy which means that colleagues can take up to 37.5 hours paid leave each year. This is a real privilege and taking advantage of it is something I’ve been promising myself I’d do in all five years of working there, so I’m pleased that I’ve finally done it.
Having volunteered for Anxiety UK many years ago for their hugely successful ‘Peer Mentoring Scheme’, I wanted to volunteer for them again. I’ve followed them over the years and watched them grow and help more people and organisations requiring assistance with anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression.
I wasn’t sure what ‘process’ to follow to ask about opportunities, so I decided to write a short email explaining that I was looking to volunteer in a communications capacity (my day job is Communications Manager), the hours I was available and attached my CV.
I was thrilled when a week later Chief Executive Nicky Lidbetter replied and suggested I join the team in April to help them prepare their communications for Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May 2018).
A week before my placement I had a call with Nicky and Dave (Services Manager) and we discussed the things I would be working on – so first day nerves were not too bad!
I worked on a variety of tasks:
- Branding guidelines – a short guide to help ensure consistency in the Anxiety UK brand.
- Style guide – a guide to help Anxiety UK documents and publications be clear, well written and be formatted consistently.
- A press release for Mental Health Awareness Week.
- Two press releases for Stress Awareness Month – to signpost people and organisations to Anxiety UK services.
- I created a file of the ‘master Anxiety UK logos’ I’ve created for different sized documents.
Volunteering was great as I was able to flex some communications skills that I don’t use as often as I’d like in my day job. I also loved learning from people with different experiences and feeling that in some small way I was contributing to this fantastic charity.
I’d encourage anyone thinking of volunteering for Anxiety UK to go for it. Anxiety UK actively promotes the inclusion of volunteers in all aspects of its work and recognises the vital role that volunteers contribute to the organisation.
There are a number of opportunities. If you are based in or within travelling distance to Manchester, you can volunteer on the Infoline. If you are not local to the office in Manchester, there are other ways you can give your time, including:
- Contributing to the blog or reviewing our Anxious Times magazine.
- Providing a specialist helpline based on your own experience of anxiety.
- Becoming an Anxiety UK therapist.
- Raising awareness in your local community by distributing leaflets and/or posters in community centre’s, GP surgeries, churches, etc.