Charmain – from volunteer to relief worker in a year

Charmain – from volunteer to relief worker in a year

My name is Charmain. I am 32 years old, and I have two sons. I used to work in food and beverage. I made the change to health and social care 18 months ago and I have never looked back.

I first came to volunteer at Equinox Slough. I was reading my local newspaper when I came across an article about Equinox and their work to help people with drug and alcohol dependence. It sounded really interesting. I noticed that Equinox were looking for volunteers. I had some spare time on my hands so I thought I would give it a go.

I was asked to come along to the project for an informal chat. I was met by an Equinox project worker and an Equinox service user, they showed me around the project and we had a chat about what volunteering there was all about. What made me want to volunteer was the enthusiasm shown about the project and the differences that were being made to people lives.

I volunteered at Equinox Slough for 9 months. The best thing I experienced there was  the positivity of the service users at the beginning of their recovery and the determination  to reach their goals and independent living. Some of them have shown real courage and inspiration in the way they have changed their lives. It was great learning how I could support them on my own and as a team.

After working as relief worker at Equinox Slough and at Equinox Aspinden Wood for 3 months I received a phone call from Agnes the manager at Equinox Southampton Way. Agnes explained that after speaking to the Service Manager at Equinox Aspinden Wood, Jenny, she would like to offer me some shifts. Agnes has some great ideas on service user involoment, including a new vegetable patch, which will be an ongoing project for service users to get involved and have some fun – from planting the seeds to growing vegetables thatwill be used in cooking meals on site.

My initial experience at Equinox Southampton Way has been great. The service users were happy to show me around the project and their flats. They told me what they did on a day to day basis, what activities they enjoyed and the ones they weren’t so keen on. Working with people with mental ill health  has giving me a great insight into the day to day challenges they face.

Working as relief staff provides me with a good balance with my home and family life. I can pick the hours to suit me every month, which is great because as a Mum some days are not convenient for me to work. My future plans are to continue supporting  service users.


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