Student Volunteering Week 2021: Lorna's Story

February 2021

Lorna volunteered at Making Space when she was a student in 2016 and now she's a full-time employee at our Warrington Day Service.

Lorna Phillips

Student Volunteering Week runs from 8 – 14 February and 2021 is the 20th year this campaign will be taking place in the UK, promoting the positive aspects of students volunteering in their local communities.

Today the contribution that student volunteers make to local communities is greater than ever before. In the past 12 months, 32 students have volunteered at 17 of our services, not only helping to provide care to the people we support, but also improving their own wellbeing. Students who volunteer also increase their chances of employability, potentially leading to even getting a job at the company they volunteered.

This is something that happened to Lorna Phillips, who volunteered for Making Space as a befriender in Earlestown whilst completing her studies in 2016. She’s now employed as a full time Support Worker at our Warrington Day Service and she’s completely loving it! We spoke to Lorna about her story.

How did you hear about Making Space and what made you want to volunteer?

I have known about Making Space for years, as I’m from Warrington, and it’s a charity I’ve always found inspirational. I’ve always been interested in mental health and I’ve been studying psychology since I was 15. I’m now 26 and my passion really lies in helping those who require a bit more support.

I also really admire the values of Making Space and feel that they strongly align with my own. I have always been interested in volunteering as a means to improve and develop my skills and career path, and also to broaden my knowledge and understanding of different areas and to give back to people in my local community. The befriender opportunity fit perfectly with this!

What did you study at University?

For my undergraduate degree I studied Psychology at the University of Liverpool and for my Master’s degree I studied Psychological Wellbeing in Clinical Practice at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Did you learn any skills whilst volunteering that helped with your academic studies?

I learnt the importance of valuing the opinions of the people we support, putting them at the heart of their care. This is something that was touched on at University, but it became much more important when I actually stepped into a support role and began to understand how fundamental it was to provide person-centred, tailor-made support.

This was a perspective I was able to put across in my University work too. During essay writing or discussions, I always tried to champion the voices of those receiving the support so that we are not always acting as the misunderstanding “expert”.

How would you describe your time as an employee at Warrington Day Service so far?

I really love working at the service! It’s full of variety and no two days are the same. There’s never a dull moment and there’s lots of opportunity to learn from someone each day!

I love how the service provides holistic support towards recovery and improving wellbeing, from groups designed to manage mental health, to those tailored to improving social networks, there’s so much support provided to meet a variety of needs and this is something I find really unique to this service. It makes me appreciate it even more.

I have been able to develop really meaningful, supportive relationships with people that I provide support to and this is something I really strive to do, so I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to do this in my role at the Warrington Day Service.

And finally, can you give any tips on how you balanced being a volunteer and doing a degree at the same time?

I would say my biggest tip would be to make sure you don’t overwork yourself. Studying and volunteering can be very demanding and it’s important to make sure you don’t take on too much. Creating a timetable around your study routine and volunteering can help you clearly see when you’ll be able to dedicate time to both without it becoming chaotic or unstructured. This way, you’ll be able to fully commit yourself to both roles without feeling guilty that you’re not doing the other!

I would also say it’s really important to make sure that you have good people around you to talk to. If you’re like me and you care a lot about people you support, it can be hard to give yourself time to unwind because you can be thinking about them a lot. This is great, but making sure you have your own good support network can help you to offload and unwind when you need it too.

We hoped you enjoyed reading Lorna’s story. If you're feeling inspired to volunteer at one of our Making Space services then you can see our current volunteering opportunities here.



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