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My Story: Pete

After 25 years of addiction and a transplant my life became more meaningful to me and I had stopped using drugs. I felt this was a new beginning for me and felt well enough to start voluntary work.

I phoned SMART and spoke to one of the volunteer coordinators who were very helpful and informative. The meeting was very informal and I was made to feel valued and wanted by the organisation, after the meeting I felt very positive about being able to join SMART as a volunteer.

Within a short period of time I was starting the Induction program for new volunteers, this quick response was important at that particular time to me as I was in need of structure and change. I met other volunteers who I felt I had a connection with and felt part of a team. The Induction covered a variety of areas needed for the voluntary role, which I found both helpful and interesting.

After I had completed the induction process I was given specific tasks which included support work in drop-in services, mobile unit, family and carer groups and peer support. I felt useful and had found my vocation in life, it was good to give back and be helping others. My life now had a focus and I was inspired by the work I was doing which helped my own recovery and helped with my self-confidence.

I went on to do the Portal Programme and managed to complete a level three NVQ qualification which encouraged me to continue learning. I have completed many other NVQ courses including safeguarding children, mentoring and coaching. I am now currently undertaking an NVQ in Health and Social Care level 3.

Volunteering has changed my life and given me a passion for the work that I do. I am now in a paid position of volunteer co-ordinator and manage a team of 15 volunteers at SMART Howard House. I feel privileged to be able to help others in their journey and enjoy giving them the same opportunities that I was given.

I would encourage anyone to volunteer no matter what age, background, history, culture or gender. The whole volunteering and  learning system helped me to understand myself as well as others and can be life changing to so many people in so many ways.