Action Group member in Hastings

Kim Kelly volunteered with Brighton Housing Trust at their Fulfilling Lives project in Hastings. “After being unemployed for about 13yrs, I felt I needed some purpose in life, to do something useful, to meet people. I also felt that it might be a route back into employment.”

Kim picked up a flyer with the details and criteria to volunteer with Fulfilling Lives whilst she was at an appointment at a work programme. They were asking for volunteers with Multiple Complex Needs (Homelessness, Substance Misuse, Offending Behaviour and Mental Health issues) to be in their Action Group. This required a once weekly, 2 hour commitment which she felt was manageable for her to start with. There was a contact number to phone to go for an informal chat about the volunteering role which she did.

Kim joined her local Action Group in Hastings, in which a group of volunteers speak about their lived experiences when accessing and engaging with local services for people with Multiple Complex Needs. This is done to identify any gaps and barriers for clients with access and engagement and to have a say in system changes to make things easier for people with MCN.  Kim said that ss a volunteer, she also had opportunities to become involved with other Working Groups within the project, attend Training Courses, take part in conferences and events and sit on interview panels.

We have asked Kim how she feels she have played a part? “Using my own lived experiences with Mental Health issues and Substance Abuse to help other people. As part of a group of volunteers who represent Fulfilling Lives at meetings and events. With suggestions of how things could change for the better.”

“I got so much from volunteering!  Initially, being part of the Action Group gave me a purpose, an interest, a feeling of being part of something.  I felt that my opinions and suggestions were listened to and valued and would help other people. Improvements in my communication skills as I became more sociable with other volunteers and staff.

Attending training courses, I learnt new, transferable skills and gained confidence in myself.  Ultimately, I had support from a mentor (help with application form, mock interview) to apply for a developmental role with Fulfilling Lives as a Project Consultant Assistant, which I got.

My 18 month contract with Fulfilling Lives will end in June and I am looking to move on into further employment, hopefully in the same field. I feel that after the confidence, experience and knowledge I have gained at Fulfilling Lives, I am in a much better place than I was. I now have something to put on my CV and any application forms I fill in to apply for future employment.”