Produced by Guest blogger
Dorset Mind is a pioneering local charity working tirelessly to educate, challenge mental health stigma and inequality, and aid recovery by helping individuals grow in resilience through 1-to-1 support, befriending services, group workshops, eco-therapy, counselling and also providing volunteering opportunities. They form part of a network of 125 local Minds, independent of, but affiliated, with National Mind. I attended the Dorset Mind Industry Day which Jenna from CareersBU arranged and we were given a series of motivating presentations by staff and thought-provoking activities to engage in.
We were welcomed with coffee, healthy fruit, and tasty pastries by Laura, Dorset Mind’s Volunteer Team Leader and Project Support Manager. Laura talked us through an overview of the charity in terms of the structural organisation which includes small teams tasked with marketing, finance, business support, training, children and young persons and adults, and so forth. Laura then talked us through the charity’s main mission and values and the community partners they collaborate with, as well as an overview of the services Dorset Mind provides.
We then talked about the Training Team. I had met Marie-Clare before as she had come to speak at one of the BU Graduate Masterclasses on Managing Your Professional Well-being. I am always fascinated (as a student studying psychology) by the nuances in the narratives people tell when reflecting on their unconventional carer pathways and how they ended up in the job they do. An overall emerging theme from the whole morning was how many of the staff working at Dorset Mind, started as a volunteer after a period of unemployment or mental health challenges and then became paid employees, forming part of the cohesive team at Dorset Mind. The Training Team got us all to engage in proactive group work thinking about how Dorset Mind could help to work with university students around mental health awareness, which is a topic I am passionate about myself, and I currently have a manuscript under review with a journal.
We were then shown around the building and got to briefly meet various staff members. I said this was fascinating because, in the past year, I’ve undertaken various charity fundraising challenges – so it was great to see a fundraising team “behind the scenes” in a working office.
Hannah from Events and Fundraising then got us to engage in an activity brainstorming around recruiting community champions to organise fundraising events. We then had an inspirational talk from two Dorset Mind Ambassadors. I met one last week as he presented at the You Are The Media Creator Day. It was so encouraging to hear from the other Ambassador how someone who initially started as a service user, then became a volunteer then an Ambassador and staff member.
Last but not least – we were then given an important closing talk on “How to manage your wellbeing” which focused on the “5 ways of wellbeing model” – connect; be active; take notice; learn and give.
I thoroughly enjoyed the morning. It was great seeing behind the scenes as to who is involved in the running of the charity. I was brave enough to share some of my journeys and mentioned previous volunteering and charity fundraising I’ve done. I have a keen personal interest in well-being, helping others improve their mental well-being, and reducing stigma. I was pleased to hear that if you would like to volunteer for Dorset Mind, you can volunteer for as little as a few hours a week as long as you can commit for six months. I will certainly be signing up to volunteer for Dorset Mind as they align with my mission around education, raising awareness, enhancing wellbeing, and reducing stigma around mental health challenges.