Celebrating Volunteers Week – Kathy Steeden

Kathy volunteers as a mentor for ESTEEM. For Volunteers Week, we asked her some questions about her experience working at ESTEEM

ESTEEM: What is your role at ESTEEM?

Kathy: I’m a volunteer mentor.

What made you volunteer with ESTEEM?
K: I was living in a property guardianship run by a social enterprise that asks guardians to volunteer each month in the local community. One day I walked past the Old School House and saw the A-board outside asking for volunteer youth mentors. I’m freelance and work mostly from home, so I’d been looking for a volunteer position where I could take advantage of my flexible schedule to meet people while doing something totally different to my day job and genuinely worthwhile. I loved the idea of working one-to-one with young adults, so mentoring seemed like a great opportunity.
What do you like about volunteering with ESTEEM?
K: I’ve seen first hand what a huge difference Esteem makes to people’s lives and I love feeling like part of such a great organisation.  Volunteers are made to feel genuinely valued as team members, and staff are there to offer support when you need it. Forging an ongoing relationship with my mentees has been the best part. It’s tough at times, but seeing them grow in confidence or proving to themselves that they can achieve things they never thought they could – like going to university or literally climbing mountains! – is just fantastic.
How have you benefited from working at ESTEEM?
K: When I first came to ESTEEM, I hoped that I’d help to change young people’s lives for the better. In the end, though, they ended up changing mine! Volunteering at ESTEEM has helped me to feel like part of the community and introduced me to a fantastic bunch of people. Thanks to the charity, I’ve undertake Mental Health First Aid training and learned to deal with difficult situations I’d never encountered before. I also really value the fact that volunteering adds another facet to my life beyond work – one where I can feel proud to be doing something worthwhile.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start volunteering?
K: Volunteering can be an amazing opportunity to learn new skills and get to know people you might not otherwise meet. I’d suggest finding something that really interests you and that fits in with your lifestyle. If time is an issue then you don’t necessarily have to commit to a regular role. There are often opportunities to volunteer to help with one-off events or on an ad hoc basis. Finding something local is not only convenient but can help you understand your community better too.
Using three words, how would you describe ESTEEM?
K: Inclusive, fun, supportive