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Aileen - Inspire

My name is Aileen and I am currently an administration volunteer with Inspire.

After completing my degree in BA Early Childhood Studies 2012, I had worked with another charity for 3 years.  However, as I have a learning disability, the transition into work wasn't easy.  I developed anxiety, depression and speech loss as a result and after quitting my job in 2015, I resolved to put my health first.  I spent the next two years travelling the world, attending counselling, speech and language therapy and confidence building classes and volunteering with different organisations to reinvigorate myself, rebuild my confidence and explore what skills I have that could help me move into a different area of employment.  I found my strengths in administration work, and from there I have been keen to volunteer as much as I can to get admin experience, as well give back to those who have helped me in my recovery.

I’ve been In my current role since September 2017.  I help and support the office co-ordinator with different tasks in the Inspire office based in Dungannon.  Tasks include database work, designing event posters for clients, photocopying, creating appointment cards etc.

There are great opportunities for me to build on my social and communication skills as well as developing my skillset in admin. As someone with a learning disability, I feel it is important for others to see me as a worthwhile person, someone who with the right support is capable to go far in life - looking at things that I can do, rather what I can't do.

Would I recommend volunteering to others?   Yes absolutely - everyone benefits on both sides.  Organisations get someone who can provide an extra pair of hands and have a unique perspective of their experiences with mental health.  Volunteers get the opportunity to be the highest expression of themselves - to shine, show what they can do and feel appreciated.  I love feeling welcome every time I come in to volunteer and being respected for who I am.

I have volunteered before with the Mid-Ulster Volunteer Centre as an office worker and as an admin volunteer worker for the First Steps Women's centre

Volunteering has been a positive and worthwhile experience.  I learn a lot about myself and given more reasons to feel proud of the progress I have made so far in my recovery.