Darren’s volunteering story – Humankind

Darren’s volunteering story

From volunteering to now working as an employee, I really understand how volunteers are integral to the service and I would definately like to see many more come on board.

Name: Darren Bretton

How did you first hear about Humankind? What made you want to start volunteering with us?

My journey started in a mutual aid group, and I came across the service whilst we were looking for a facility to hold our meeting. After going into the service and speaking to a few staff members, something just felt right and I went to ask if they were recruiting any volunteers. Part of my 12 steps was to give something back, and when I went to the service that first time everything seemed to fall into place and I really wanted to help. It was if it was meant to be.

What was your volunteer role and what skills did you gain as a volunteer?

Initially my volunteer role included helping with the groups and the coffee morning. One thing that attracted me to recovery was listening to people having a conversation and laughing together. I felt like I could not do this, as active addiction was a dark place. Through these past feelings, my role quickly adapted as I wanted to be open about this and help people identify that change is possible. At first, my advice was quite linear as to what I experienced, but I slowly learnt that everyone is different and recovery is unique to the person. This helped me develop skills of honestly, open mindfulness, and being a friendly listener if people needed it. I wanted to be someone who was approachable.

When did you start working at Humankind? How did that come about?

I officially volunteered for around 10 months. A few months into my volunteering, a job opportunity came up, however I knew there was more to learn in my volunteer role and I did not want to rush anything. The second vacancy came along, and I felt like I was in a better position to go for it. With the support and encouragement of the team, I went for it and got an interview. The same day of the interview, I was offered the job! Initially I felt nervous and questioned if I could make the jump from volunteer to employee, however everyone made me feel so believed in and this quickly went away. I have never worked for an organisation where there is such a family feel.

How did you find transitioning from your volunteer role to employment?

Very comfortable! One thing I have noticed is the added responsibility as time goes on, however it feels very natural and organic from the duties and skills I found as a volunteer.

What does a typical day look like for you now?

Each day is definitely different, but one thing I have noticed is that I now actually enjoy getting up and going to work. Feeling fulfilled at the end of the day motivates me to do it all again the next day. In the service, my main focus is any client who walks through the door. We put on structured groups, recovery events, breakfast clubs, and I also run a range of games to get people smiling. Some days are harder than others, but we have learnt how to work through it as a team. With my past, sometimes I feel like I dwell on the harder days longer than I should, however the team has supported me with working through this. With all the parts we bring individually, I feel like we work together as a fine-tuned engine, and every day I appreciate this.

What advice would you give to someone that’s considering volunteering/working at Humankind?

Bring who you are to the role, rely on the people around you, take your time, and enjoy it! From volunteering to now working as an employee, I really understand how volunteers are integral to the service and I would definitely like to see many more come on board.

Visit our volunteers page to find out how you can get involved at Humankind.