Volunteers' Week: Graham's Story
Publish Date: 03/06/2013
Graham, 40 has been a befriender since October 2012 and supports people who have mental health issues, are new to the area, have just come out of a relationship, or have just come out. The LGF’s Befriending Service plays a crucial role in guiding people through difficult times.
“I'm a mature student nurse at the University of Manchester and one of the courses I take, the Manchester Leadership Programme, encourages students to get involved in volunteering. Shortly after starting on the course I spotted some LGF publicity for the befriending scheme and decided it was the ideal opportunity for me to give something back to a community that has been a big part of my life, so I applied to be a volunteer.
“The training opportunities you gain access to as a volunteer are excellent and are transferable to the world beyond the befriending scheme. It's an opportunity to meet lots of new people outside your usual work or social circle, including volunteers, LGF staff and the befrienders themselves, and this gives you new perspectives on life. But more importantly it is really rewarding helping somebody achieve their goals or at least move a step or two closer to them.
“What has come as a surprise to me has been the positive impact that volunteering with the LGF as a befriender has had on me personally. I've always considered myself as an "out" gay man, comfortable with my sexuality, but I had fallen into the trap of letting things ride when people made false assumptions about my sexuality or if I came across casual homophobia. Volunteering with the LGF and working with clients of the service has helped me to develop my confidence, self-esteem, and assertiveness and I therefore feel much more empowered to challenge homophobia and unhelpful attitudes and behaviours.”
For more information about befriending visit www.lgf.org.uk/befrienders