Volunteers' Week: Our Wednesday Volunteers!
To celebrate Volunteers' Week 2017, we will be posting interviews with some of the wonderful people who support Headway and our members throughout the year. Our volunteers make a huge difference to our team, and we couldn't do what we do without them!
Today is our last interview! We are talking to volunteer Viktorija, who has been working at Headway for a year and a half.
How did you find out about Headway?
I found out about Headway at the University of Westminster, where I studied psychology. There was an event where they were looking for volunteers for various organisations, and I wanted to work somewhere related to what I want to do in the future. I now want to be a psychiatrist, mainly working with the rehabilitation of people who have suffered a brain injury. So yes – this was definitely related! I have now been volunteering here for a year and a half. I just graduated a few weeks ago, and I’m starting my Clinical Neuropsychiatry masters in September. It’s going to be part-time, so I’m hoping to get a part-time job and - if I can still manage - then I’ll keep coming here weekly, fortnightly or at least once a month.
What made you want to study Neuropsychiatry?
My Grandad had a traumatic brain injury in the war, and he used to tell me so many different stories about it when I was a kid. I developed this interest. Then I came to Headway! I came here thinking: “what if I have no idea how to communicate with people?” but I found it so interesting and rewarding. It felt good to give back to the community. Applying my academic knowledge to a practical situation - it all just came together. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but studying psychology and coming here influenced me a lot. It clicked!
Do you enjoy working with the members?
I enjoy it when I see that I’m genuinely helpful to someone. When I see that someone appreciates my assistance and support. I’m not just coming in here to get “work experience” or to get this thing on my CV – I want to make someone’s day better. I like it when people realise that someone cares about them and their opinion, and that there are others who want to help them who won’t just leave them to be depressed.
I think being here has made me a better person. It gave me an insight into so many ‘invisible’ problems that people have. It also made me more liberal - I think meeting so many people from different backgrounds with different problems made me realise that you have to treat everyone equally. It doesn’t matter what football team they support! These people taught me loads of things. Sometimes I feel like I am talking to my grandparents – the members give me life advice!
What is the best thing about volunteering at Headway?
Headway is great at organising their volunteers. That’s not always the case with some organisations. I hate when you plan something, and you give up your time and it gets cancelled. That never happens here. They plan a lot of different events – a few weeks ago the members went to a concert at the philharmonic orchestra, they go to museums, art galleries and organise art exhibitions. They treat their volunteers well, and I really respect that. If you have an issue, you can always talk to someone. Last year, when I was having a hard time, they were great. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and he also had a stroke. I was taking care of him for two months in the summer. When I came in here, I received so much support from the staff and the other volunteers. It felt so nice. Being able to help others at the same time also made me feel better – it kind of cured the whole sadness. Fortunately, he recovered. If someone needs help they will always find time.
In this place, everyone cares about everyone.