These are the thoughts of a recent new Samaritan:
- Being a Volunteer in Bridgend
Bridgend branch is a busy place, it's great how so many volunteers come together and achieve so much. Being part of that is quite special, hard work at times but always rewarding. I've been a volunteer for three years and can't believe how quickly that time has gone.
- Why did you choose Bridgend Samaritans?
I wanted to do some voluntary work with an organisation that was organised had a good training course and where I would be fully supported to be involved. I enjoy working with people and wanted to do something that could help someone right at the time that they needed it most. The Bridgend Branch is really well run and everyone is friendly and helpful.
- What happened after you made contact?
I had an email back saying the branch would be in touch to let me know when the information session was. When I went to that session I learnt more about how the Bridgend Branch runs and how I could get involved. It was quite surprising, there is a lot more to it than being a listening volunteer.
- What is the training like?
It's really good, helps you to settle in, feel part of the branch and I have to admit I was still a bit nervous going on shift for the first time but I was ready for it. We learnt a lot on the training about how to cope with the calls we take and how to be a good listener and support someone to talk. It was challenging, I learnt a lot about myself as well as the Samaritans. You also have a mentor who makes sure you keep learning as you go along.
- What's it like being on shift?
Really good. Once my training was over and my mentor felt that I would be ok on my own I started going on shift with other members of the branch. We are quite busy on shift so the time goes quickly, if I'm not answering the phone I am replying to callers who have contacted by email or text. Not all calls go well but most do and it sounds strange to say I enjoy my shifts but I do.
- What else have you got involved with?
Lots and lots, you have to be quite careful or you could live there. There is a lot to running the branch and lots of jobs to do. I have helped with fundraising, awareness campaigns, planning meetings and training events. There are lots of jobs you may want to take on or are likely to be asked to do - you can say no but thankfully lots of us find a little exta time to do those extra tasks.
- How would you sum up the Bridgend Branch?
Well I would probably start with friendly followed by organised and busy. There is a real sense of making sure that we are doing things right, that being run by volunteers doesn't mean that it is amateur or unprofessional - quite the opposite. Walking in to the branch is a very comfortable experience and whilst we take what we do seriously we still manage to have lots of good fun. A real plus is all the friends I have made.