To gain a more personal view of what the programme means for those volunteers in this special week, SDF media volunteer, John Thomson, met up with some of those working in Fife.
This is Grant’s story.
Grant, SDF Peer Research Volunteer, Fife
How did you get into volunteering with SDF?
I’d been referred to a group called Restoration Fife because of my alcohol addiction and it was an organic move from there to getting involved in peer research. I’ve been involved in various things; including helping to organise a health event where people were encouraged to get their liver scanned to help eradicate Hep C.
I’ve also been involved in a study on Minimum Unit Pricing which was done in three stages – before, during and after it became law – to see what effect this would have on people’s lives and this involved me going out and dealing with people on a one-to-one basis to see how they were managing and to signpost them onto any further help that they might need.
But did Grant have any of these skills before he started volunteering?
I had certain personal skills, but not in terms of dealing with people around sensitive topics.
So it was a challenge. Apart from building on my own personal skills, I had to learn about the personal nature of addiction; learning to deal with people and treat them with that level of respect that maybe they’re not used to. It’s been a major learning process but without Restoration Fife and SDF I wouldn’t be where I am today.
And what are Grant’s plans for the future?
I’m looking to work in addiction support but I’m not sure how that’s going to work out. At the moment, as well as peer research, I’m at college doing an Introduction to Intermediate Counselling and also Psychology and next year I’m going to do the HND in Counselling and also Psychology and that’s maybe with a view to going onto university and getting a degree.
I wouldn’t be doing all this as a volunteer without the help of SDF. When I was working I was a workaholic, but I lost my job and I’d lost that work ethic. The feedback from SDF instils that work ethic back in you again. You’re trying to get sober and it gives you a goal so that you’re no’ relapsing.
And I’m getting really relevant training. If the SDF can’t do the training themselves, then it’s done through the relevant people locally – like being sent on Child Protection Courses 1 and 2.
Being with the SDF and just getting on with what needs to be done is a good proposition for the future. Seeing people coming through the SDF is good in itself and anyone who doesn’t see that, well it’s their loss.
If you have a history of substance use problems and would like to find out more about becoming a Peer Research volunteer with SDF, please click here.