Students volunteering with the National Citizens Service (NCS) came along to the Chill and Chat drop-in group in Godalming to take part in the Challenge Day that was held on the 31st August. Chill and Chat is a group for people experiencing depression who would like some company and peer support. The theme of the day was wellbeing and the NCS volunteers worked with members of the group to decorate boxes with designs about what wellbeing means to them before ending the day with a fun, energetic game of rounders in the sunshine.
The Challenge Day was extremely successful and it gave the students a chance to meet and chat with people from the group. When asked about what they had learnt from the experience some of the students said, “the experience showed how much of a difference just a little time or money can make”, “something as simple as decorating a box can make someone feel so much better” and “regardless of any other factors, we are all the same when we connect.”
The students said the day had increased their knowledge of mental health issues saying, “it has made me aware of people in isolation”, “I can now see that mental health is harder to treat than the media portrays”, “I realise how important it is to talk about mental health to improve it” and “these people are ordinary people, it is just that they feel down more often than the rest of us.”
After taking part in the day, all of the students commented about how they felt inspired to do further volunteering and one person said, “I have wanted to work with those who are struggling for all of my life, as there is nothing better than being there for someone.”
As part of NCS volunteering programme with VASWS, the students also fundraised for a large canvas that the members of the Chill and Chat can divide into squares and decorate with the continued theme of wellbeing. They are also going to campaign on behalf of some of the organisations at VASWS including the Welcome project and Welcome to Volunteering. To do this, the students are going to distribute leaflets to members of the public in Guildford Town Centre.
For more information about the different organisations at VASWS, please visit https://voluntaryactionsws.org.uk, or for more information about the Chill and Chat drop-in session, please contact Lorraine Yates on firstname.lastname@example.org