The team at innovative mental health charity Open Door talk about their experiences as mentors.
Award winning charity The Open Door Centre are looking for volunteer mentors to join their team. The innovative organisation, based out of Bloom Building in Birkenhead, want compassionate and committed people to help with their mental health programmes.
Proud to be a charity by young people, for young people, ODC work on a membership format, helping 15-30 year olds deal with feelings of anxiety, stress or simply feeling low. The charity’s approach includes Creative Therapeutic Support utilising different activity within music and the arts to help members address their mental health.
With mental health being an issue of particular prescience at the moment, the Bloom Building team is on the look out for young people to get involved in their fantastic work. Bido Lito! has worked with ODC for a number of years collaborating on projects, hosting events and charting their journey as a forward thinking organisation using the music and the arts in interesting and effective ways.
Here we are profiling some of the current members of the ODC team to demonstrate what you can get out of joining the Open Door gang. Volunteers talk about their experiences improving their career choices, upping their confidence and the benefit of meeting a variety of new people.
Andy has been a mentor with Open Door Charity for over two years. Starting mentoring at ODC kickstarted his interest in putting his experience into action. Andy’s passion for helping and engaging with others at the ODC led him to apply for an MA in Counselling &
Psychotherapy at John Moores University. Through the experience and skills, he learnt at the ODC, he was accepted onto the course and will be continuing his mentoring throughout his university degree.
“I was looking for experience with helping people with mental health problems and I was really attracted to the Open Door Charity as it is really inclusive and has a fresh vibe and attitude towards mental health treatment.
Starting here got the ball rolling in thinking about my future career, this was the real first kickstart into thinking that this is what I want to do. My dream career is to qualify as a professional counsellor, and now through the experience I have gained through the Open Door I have been accepted onto a Master’s degree course.
“Open Door Charity has got me used to meeting all different types of people, who are going through all different types of experiences. It has given be an amazing insight, of all different problems that people go through in life, preparing me for when I’m going to be a qualified counsellor. I have found everyone at the charity so friendly and supportive over my two years”.
Amy got involved with the Open Door Charity in May 2018, hearing about it through her university and immediately knew she wanted to be involved. Previous to hearing about Open Door, Amy struggled with her own mental health and didn’t get any support. This sparked her passion to help people who were in her position. Amy always wanted to be a teacher before coming to the Open Door, but she still remembers her first session and immediately knowing that this is what she wanted to do. Two years later Amy is an integral part of the Open Door Charity team, displaying her passion for people on a daily basis through her role as Bazaar project lead.
“The Open Door facilitated my passion and allowed it to grow, the more I was in the
centre the more I wanted to be involved. I was so proud to be part of this amazing
organisation and would always joke I would work here.
“I am now project lead for Bazaar, this is the CCBT programme we provide. My role involved communication with both members and mentors and facilitating their sessions and their passion to get support or support someone. Previous to this I was the Volunteer Coordinator – which was an unbelievable role to be asked to do – my knowledge and experience as a mentor helped me massively!
“I am so unbelievably proud of being part of something so amazing – I hope to grow and develop with the organisation. I have developed a number of skills through mentoring and working here. I have also gained some personal skills from mentoring here – doing the CBBT programme serval times a week makes me automatically start to pick up the skills and techniques yourself. This is definitely true in my case. My biggest take away from the sessions is the mindfulness – I never did it before coming here and although I don’t do it every night it has massively impacted my personality. I am a much calmer, laidback person because of this.”
Adam found Open Door a couple of years ago online (do-it.org). He is really
interested in psychology and mental health, so was keen to find somewhere to volunteer, that combined both of those interests. Mentoring at Open Door has surpassed Adam’s expectations. Over the last two years, Adam has mentored an incredible 23 members, all of which said that they have benefitted from his support.
“CBT helped me so much in the first few years after my diagnosis, I was already passionate about how much difference it can make to someone’s life.
“Being a mentor feels really satisfying, I feel like the sessions work both ways for mentor and member. As along the way I still use the CBT techniques whilst helping the member”
Mya has been mentoring with Open Door for two years. She found Open Door while doing an assignment on her university Psychology course. Now her desired career goals are to work with Young Adults. Mya’s proudest moment of mentoring is that one of the members was so inspired by the success of her own experience with Bazaar, that she has now become a mentor herself.
“Continuing to mentor has personally helped my own thinking processes, in particular the twisting thinking section of the Bazaar programme, helps me to categorise my own negative thinking”.
The first time Ben heard about the Open Door was through his parents. They were fundraising for the charity at the time. Ben was going through a difficult time, so his parents suggested for him to get in contact. Ben spoke to ODC and got his first session booked. The eight week journey changed his life for the better. With how much he was helped as a member, Ben wanted to become a mentor himself, as he really wanted to help others.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic seeing people start their journey here with troubles and leaving with smiles on their faces, it is so rewarding. I love that I get to meet people from all walks of life and ages, all the people I’ve met have been amazing.”
Luke first heard about the Open Door at a lecture about what the charity is and what the charity does. Luke studied psychology, so was really interested in becoming a volunteer. Luke has now been with ODC for over a year and a half, and in that time mentored an amazing 32 members.
“I love finding out about the people I am mentoring; each person is different and finding out the kind of techniques and approaches that work for them. Through my experience at the Open Door, I have applied for a masters in Brain and Behaviour at LJMU, this will then start my career of working with young people full time”.
After a very successful time being a member at ODC, John decided to take the step from member to mentor, he has now successfully been mentoring for three years. Mentoring has also opened some doors for John, getting the chance to take part in a short film about mental health issues with a local CIC, Periscope. He eventually went on to write a narrative poem and lent his accent for the audio clips in the new and improved bespoke CBT programme Bazaar: A Marketplace for the Mind, developed by The Open Door Charity.
“I didn’t take the decision to go into Open Door Charity for the first time lightly, I was
very much a self-contained man. The idea of asking for and accepting help was scary. I had a chat with Greg, the Centre Manager, and in what I imagine are conversations he had daily, I laid out the past two years of my life. I think that was a major turning point.
“I had my first session only a few weeks later – the help was immediate, I had been quoted waiting times upwards of twelve months by the local NHS mental health body – and was introduced to my mentor, Lloyd, a musical Welshman.
“In that first session with a young man, recently bereaved, I was naturally quite anxious. But session after session, you fall into a rhythm and get to know the lives of the people whom you are mentoring. You get the unique privilege and responsibility of being someone, in some cases the only one, that they can talk to.
“It’s important to manage your expectations but I’ve celebrated the small and big things with the members I have mentored. The member who climbed out of long term unemployment, the member who came in after a bad few months in a great mood. The member who surprises you with unexpected hobbies and interests. I’ve begun to relish each session, that one hour a week has become as beneficial for me as it is for them.”
Andy had been running workshops every Wednesday at the Bloom Building, he noticed a common trend within these workshops, that the conversation would often lead to talking about how they were feeling. From these conversations, Andy decided to become a mentor at ODC, he had a desire to learn a new skill set and to gain some valuable experience of working with members. Through his new skill set, he was able to fully engage and take lead on important conversations. A few months after starting mentoring, Andy was offered a contract as the creative lead of the Bloom Building. Andy is now an integral of the team, with having full creative responsibility over the programming of all events and workshops.
“My mentoring experience was a really valuable time for me. I found it especially good to learn how to use the techniques for myself. I already kept a journal, so for me it was great to develop those skills. It was also really informative to see what different process works for different people and was amazing to see when they had a break though”.
Elle was previously a member with the Open Door. Having had such a positive time with her mentor and loving Bloom building so much she now wants to become a mentor herself. Elle is studying for an MA in Social Work and being a mentor has provided the real life experience of connecting and helping individuals, settingher up for a glowing career in social work.
“The best thing about being an Open Door mentor is meeting and talking to so many different people”.
What attracted Martin to becoming a mentor at the Open door was his experience of being a member himself back in 2016. Martin’s mentoring at the Open Door led him to the job he is currently doing working for on a vulnerable customer project for a major bank.
“I felt I wanted to give something back and also realised how important the
volunteering role is to supporting people. Having experienced being a
member myself I know first-hand that the 8-week course does work and can
change your life.
“I was successful in my application for a job in January. The listening skills I have gained during my mentoring help me greatly in my job and vice versa”.
To find out more on how to get involved with volunteering at the Open Door Charity go to opendoorcharity.com/volunteer