Volunteers' Week 2024: Marie's story

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 3rd June, 2024

Marie Ash - Volunteers' WeekThis week we celebrate Volunteers' Week. We spoke to Marie Ash, Senior Peer Support Worker, about her volunteering journey.

"For me my volunteering role came from my involvement in interviews on the psychiatric wards in North Devon. Being part of the interview panel and feeling respected for the perspective I could bring was a part of my personal recovery journey and being paid gave me the opportunity to pay for tickets to see Les Miserable with my husband, I’ve been trying to describe what that meant to both Paul and myself, I think joy and pride that something positive came out from the mental distress I experienced.

"When we had finished the interview I told Jo (Occupational Therapy Lead on the wards) that I had written my journey for a course I was attending, and would she like to read it. After reading it she asked if I would like to read it to people on the wards as this might offer hope and they can see recovery in action. I was happy to do this, in fact it was so life affirming to be able to offer hope to those on the ward I was so often a patient on. Jo also insisted my name badge had Peer Support Volunteer as she absolutely saw and understood the value in Peer Support and this was back in 2013. Jo nominated me for a Celebrating Achievement Award in 2014 which was such a privilege but what meant so much was that my eldest son wanted to be there with me because he was proud of what I was doing.

"Over time with my volunteering and with training through courses I was attending at college I became involved in supporting those attending the Breaking Free group which was another positive use of both my skills from the counselling training and the lived experience and Peer Support, which again was life affirming and offering hope. It was also a privilege to be nominated and win the inspiration award in 2016. Throughout my journey in volunteering I have met and learnt so much from others who volunteer and have seen the positive effect this can have on people using our services and professionals especially for those who at times were involved in my care as a patient.

"Alongside of the volunteering came involvement and part was supporting the extension of Peer Support. I think it was 2018 that this work began with a working group set up within Together to look at this. It has grown and developed over the years and with the great leadership team and amazing Peer Worker it will continue to grow and be valued throughout Devon Partnership Trust (DPT).

"I have also been able to support other volunteers in North Devon, some who have gone on to work in a Peer Support role. I know for me volunteering first before going into a employed role was helpful, almost a dipping the toe in the water. It is something I hold dear to my heart and would encourage anyone to explore either a role volunteering or looking at involvement in DPT.

"This has been such a positive part of my recovery journey for which I will always be grateful."