16 October 2014 | Volunteering | Back to Blog

My relationship with volunteering, drug and alcohol support work and a whole lot of running

Good GymBy Jamie Walling

After regaling my current employer with all my relevant voluntary experience in a recent job interview there was a pause. A moment of silence passed then I was asked for the first time in my life “What motivated you to do that, why do you volunteer?” Those that know me will be aware that I am rarely lost for words, but on this occasion I was dumbstruck. I could hear the hamster wheel whirling inside my head as I tried my best to think of something to say that wouldn’t sound clichéd or self-important. “I enjoy it and volunteering is important to me” I replied after some deliberation, a poor answer most would agree.

Why do you volunteer? I had never even asked myself that question before but on reflection I have come to realise that I appear compelled to continually engage in experiences that put me out of my comfort zone. Volunteering in this way has always enabled me to discover something new about myself as well as the projects I support.

Currently I am volunteering as a Community Reintegration Practitioner with Westminster Drug Project, an organisation that has been dedicating to helping those affected by drug and alcohol abuse in London for more than twenty years. At the time I applied for the role I was looking for a challenge and having never worked in the drug and alcohol field before I knew this opportunity would provide me with one. My role involves supporting clients who are towards the end of their journey recovering from drug and alcohol dependency. The work is wonderfully varied and ranges from assisting clients to gain employment, training and education opportunities, to facilitating support groups, taking clients out on social activities as well as writing funding bids and designing programmes.

WDP Logo

The support group work in particular is incredible and has given depth to my understanding of emotional intelligence. How often are we actually aware of how we feel? And how does this affect our choices, relationships and interactions? All questions I have chewed over and relearnt the value of, mainly from the amazing clients themselves, since volunteering for Westminster Drug Project.

As well my community reintegration work I am also a member of GoodGym. Many of you will be familiar with this fantastic organisation that inspires budding runners to voluntarily contribute to community projects in their locality during weekly group runs. I possibly experienced GoodGym nirvana a few weeks ago when a group of approximately thirty of us managed to build a ten metre long and two metre wide woodland path in a children’s adventure playground in under half an hour, a task that would have surely taken one person a couple of days. An incredible feat, even if I do say so myself. I never fail to be surprised by what can be achieved with well meaning collective energy!

For more information on Westminster Drug Project please visit their website.

And don’t just visit the GoodGym website, come along for a run!