Volunteers' Week 2017 runs from 1-7 June and is an annual celebration of the millions of volunteers across the UK. To kick off the week, we share Gen's experience of volunteering as a Telephone Mentor with Bipolar UK.

Volunteers Week 2017: 1-7 June

I'm a recent volunteer with Bipolar UK's Telephone Mentoring service. I've done several one-off sessions as well as beginning 6 week sessions with two mentees.

Although a recent newbie, I feel very much part of the Mentoring team and my contribution seems really valued by both Bipolar UK and by the mentees I've been volunteering with.

Having lived with my bipolar diagnosis for 17 years (and been well on medication for 9 years), I felt I had a lot of experience around living with bipolar: medication decisions; pregnancy and childbirth; self-management, as well as relationship and work challenges.

It felt the right time to start volunteering now my child is older and I had a few hours to spare to give something back. I am also used to coaching in my paid job so telephone mentoring seemed ideal.

Whilst mentoring can be a little intense at times as I hear about mentees' struggles, I am enjoying listening to and talking with my mentees and helping them reach plans or solutions for some of their issues.

Bipolar UK gives mentors good induction training and ongoing support and I find by the end of the six weeks that I feel like a trusted friend and saying goodbye to a mentee can be a little sad (although mentees can refer back into the service if they need to in the future). However, knowing I've made a difference and that mentees often seem more positive and stronger than they did at the beginning makes mentoring totally worthwhile.

Learn more about our Telephone Mentoring service

Take a look at our current volunteering opportunities across the UK