From volunteer to the staff team: Emily’s amazing story

What was your volunteering role with Connection Support?

I started volunteering with the Violence Reduction Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in July 2022.  My role was to support people admitted to the Emergency Department, through addiction, overdose, self-harm, eating disorders and domestic abuse. I actively listened to patients’ stories with a non-judgemental approach, showing compassion and empathy.

What made you decide to apply to volunteer with us?

I myself have been through lots of traumatic experiences. My mother was an addict and that resulted in a very unstable childhood, with my older sister being my main carer. My sister died of cancer when I was 18, and my Mum passed away when I was 30. After that time I was addicted to cocaine and alcohol for five years. I have now been clean for three years. All of this lived experience is my motivation to help others. I want to give hope to the people I support and be that proof that dark times can be overcome, and you can go on to be happy and lead a fulfilled life.

What did you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoyed meeting new people. It was so rewarding to be that person that someone can talk to and feel that they are being heard. Many patients were on their own and with how busy the nurses and doctors are they did not have the time to sit with these people. It was hard to see people so distressed but to be thanked for listening made it all worthwhile. I worked with an amazing team who were all so kind.

Tell us about how you moved to the staff team at Connection Support. What is your role like now?

I really wanted to move on to a paid role and I heard about a vacancy at the Step Down House which I was very happy to be successful for. The role I do now is so rewarding. To be able to be part of the guest’s journey while they are rebuilding their lives is something that I feel so blessed to be able to be part of. Working with local councils and other housing projects to secure a move on plan for them can be challenging, but when you see people move on to stable accommodation it makes it all worthwhile. My Manager has shown me so much support and guidance I would not be where I am today if it was not for her.

I love everything about this role and all it stands for. Helping people to get back on their feet and empower them to move forward with their lives is something that I feel is my calling.

What advice would you give to someone else who was thinking about volunteering at Connection Support?

Connection Support is an amazing charity. The work the teams do every single day cannot easily be put into words. Connection Support changes the lives of so many people every single day. It’s more like one big family, everyone across all the teams are so caring and will welcome you with open arms. Volunteering for Connection Support will enable you to help so many people in really difficult situations and it will give you that feeling of making a difference.

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