I began volunteering at Headway Nottingham whilst studying for a Psychology and Sociology degree at Nottingham Trent University. I knew I wanted to work in a caring environment on graduation, but was unsure what exactly I wanted to do. I applied to volunteer at Headway mostly to up my experience and understanding of the care sector but got much more from it than just the experience.

I did so many varied things in my time as a volunteer- right from simply making cups of tea for service users and having a chat with them, to designing and carrying out workshops alongside the staff, helping at fundraising events (most memorably carrying collection buckets at the Nottingham Varsity series 2013), assisting service users out into the community and helping service users regain their functional skills including reading, writing, maths and filling in forms.

I even carried out a research project for my dissertation using Headway Nottingham Service users as participants. My research project was awarded a strong first class grade, and awarded a ‘Quality of life enhancement’ award, selected from all Psychology projects in my cohort, and that is largely down to the support I was given by all those at Headway.  I felt like a valued member of the Headway family. I was well respected by service users, and developed great friendships with the staff, even going on nights out together. Even though I had to sadly stop volunteering two years ago due to work commitments, I am still invited back to many events. Headway Nottingham and its many service users, staff and friends will always have a place in my heart. It has shaped my career choices and given me loads to talk about in job applications and interviews. Experience gained from volunteering at Headway Nottingham is the main reason I was able secure my dream job, working with adults with learning disabilities to develop independence in the community. Volunteering at Headway Nottingham not only made my CV and job applications stand out, but it was one of the highlights of my time at University.

It’s cliché to say it’s such a rewarding experience, but it really is. I will never forget how great it feels seeing service users coming on leaps and bounds with their rehabilitation, and knowing you played a part in that. I would recommend anybody considering volunteering here to come and meet the Headway Nottingham family- I guarantee you will be made to feel welcome from the moment you step through the door.

(Sally, volunteered for over 2 years)