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Celebrating Volunteers’ Week

3 June 2016

As part of  Volunteers’ Week, we are celebrating all of the amazing volunteers that support our funded projects.

Tamana Miah, volunteer with Rethink

Despite only being 22, student Tamanna Miah has already been an active volunteer for 11 years, supporting a range of services in youth and community organisations. Here she tells us about her work with charity Rethink, and their Big Lottery funded programme Step Up: Transitions, that supports young people living with mental illness

“I like volunteering on Step Up: transitions for several reasons. Firstly because it’s a mental health project that uses the knowledge, skills and lived experience of young people like myself to create training for other young people (16-25 years) to help them deal with the impact of change on their mental health through one off and 6-session training. There’s not enough of this peer to peer aspect for young people in mental health and that’s a shame because when I deliver our training in schools, community centres and other places it’s this ‘young people to young people’ approach that means we can connect very quickly, in a more powerful, empathetic way. You can see a real difference from the start when everyone’s not sure what to expect and wondering if they should have come and then in an hour or so everyone is so engaged and wanting to get more involved . It’s great to feel I am a part of that.”

“I also really like being involved in Step Up: transitions because it’s a co-production project so I can really get hands-on experience in the whole process and drive it based on the issues I see all around me. I’ve been heavily involved in the planning, designing promotional materials, sitting on panels and of course delivering the training to young people across Islington, Lambeth and Hammersmith and Fulham so I feel like I really have ownership over this project and what we do with it. It’s also a very creative process, we often use drama or dance to connect with young people which I enjoy and I’m also coproducing the evaluation materials with the Tavistock Institute so that’s another set of skills I get to put into practice.”

“The final reason I enjoy volunteering on Step Up: Transitions is that it lets me integrate a lot the underlying causes of mental health that I am passionate about into our trainings such as bullying and racism, mental health support in BAME communities, the importance of early intervention and the impact of big changes such as starting university on your mental health.”

“The potential of co-production is that is becomes like a domino effect: if I can help one person then in turn they can help another and in the end we can create a culture shift. That’s what I’ve been spending these 11 years advocating for.”

Rethink helps people affected by mental illness by challenging attitudes, changing lives you can learn more by visiting their website (to be placed in as a link https://www.rethink.org)

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