“A MAN WHO WANTS TO LEAD THE ORCHESTRA MUST TURN HIS BACK ON THE CROWD.”
BoB is a volunteer driven organisation, around three quarters of who are, or have been service users. Having said that many students and members of the local community have come and spent time with us, willing to help out, learn a little and become a member of our ridiculously diverse and funny family.
We usually have sixty to eighty volunteers on our books at any one time, and over the years more than five hundred people have volunteered with us. We were always impressed that for several years a lovely woman called Theresa commuted all the way from Maidstone every weekend to volunteer with us, but recently one of our volunteers who went to work in Germany decided to commute in from Munich now and again to volunteer! Oddly enough, her name is Theresa too. Build on Belief; easy to join but hard to walk away from!
As Chief Operations Officer I have been here from the very beginning (bit of a Gandalf moment there) and I have known each at every one of our volunteers. They have always been my heroes. The strength of commitment, breadth of personal skills, courage, tenacity and stubborn determination are responsible for making BoB the organisation it is. For me, and I suspect more than a few others, they show simple humanity at it’s very, albeit flawed, best.
On and off over the years we have asked our volunteers to write a little bit about their time and their experiences with us. Here are some of the things they had to say . . . . . .
My name is Bisi I have been a Bob volunteer since Dec 2014. I found out about BoB from Newham Volunteers. I had recently completed my Substance Misuse qualification and I remember my tutor encouraging me to volunteer.
I really enjoy being a volunteer.
My days at BoB are rewarding and enriching. BoB is all about making a difference and volunteering provides me with the opportunity to have an impact on service users.
Bisi, Volunteer at Build on Belief Newham
Stephen Kinch (2016)
Saturday mornings used to be one of those dark days like any other. I’d wake with a hangover that would measure ten on an earthquake Richter scale. Since coming into recovery from my alcoholism I have discovered a new healthy buzz that I’m hooked on, volunteering for Build on Belief.
Since B.O.B. opened their drop-in centre at Newham Rise, Canning Town I’ve been blessed with meeting many new friends I would never normally have met had it not been for my alcohol addiction.
Now empowered with control and clarity of thought I can do anything I want to. ‘Can is so much easier than can’t’. I have worked voluntarily in Newham for Build on Belief since the start of their drop-in service last April. This provides a safe place for people with addictions. It gives them a chance to meet other people and widen their comfort zone, (I call it the Dead Zone) I facilitate guitar classes there as well, giving me a chance to practice and socialise as well.
Fate has brought me down this path. If I can use my experience of recovery from those dark days to guide others into recovery It would be a great comfort knowing those days were not a complete loss.
Give Build on Belief a try. You won’t look back.
My very first experience of B.O.B was at a service user meeting where I met a couple of people who were Team Leaders for BOB. They spoke with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm about their service and how much volunteering for BOB had helped them in their recovery.
It was clear they had come to promote BOB and its specialised week-end service. I then discovered that they had been asked to open up a similar service in my own borough after seven successful years of service in another borough. (About time I remember thinking.)
At this point being four months into my own recovery I, although slightly sceptical, decided to get involved. It was a decision that I can honestly say that I have never looked back on and I am very glad that I stuck with my decision.
Volunteering with BOB in its social club/drop-in is something that I have come to love and really enjoy and it is now the highlight of my week. To me there is nothing more fulfilling and satisfying than helping others, especially those who may be going through hard times and need support. We are able to provide this support in a safe, family like environment which is beneficial for the wellbeing and development of both service users and volunteers alike….
As a volunteer working in a team in this unique atmosphere has helped me build upon my confidence and self-esteem and also to learn new skills that I never thought possible. I have also taken advantage of BOB’s variety of in house training/workshops which supplement the work that I do.
I feel fully supported in my role and have peace of mind as I know my best interests are BOB’s best interests. I am currently in my tenth month of volunteering and in the process of volunteering for two more organisations.
It has definitely worked for me so it can work for you too, so GET INVOLVED.
Being a volunteer at B.O.B has been such a rewarding experience for me. I don’t have a history of drug or alcohol abuse but I wanted to become a volunteer here because I wanted to give more to my local community and also to break down my own perceptions about what it’s like to have a drug/alcohol problem.
Since volunteering here I have learned so much about those who struggle with drugs and alcohol. I find the service users who attend this social club lovely and friendly people who are actually no different from myself, and I feel privileged that they have let me get to know them. They have certainly changed my perceptions and I really enjoy being one of their volunteers.
Seamus Bellew (2013)
Since starting volunteering with BoB I have noticed significant changes in myself. At first I was quite nervous, lacked confidence, but over time with the help of more experienced volunteers I slowly moved forward, building relationships with service users as well as volunteers. I also found my self-esteem getting larger. Volunteering has been invaluable in helping me develop and notice my own skills, advantages, weaknesses and strengths. Saturdays and Sundays at BoB have given me a marked improvement in my wellbeing.
Ben Parker (2013)
Working at BoB has done a lot for my recovery. Volunteering here has helped me to help others and not just think about myself. I can identify with service users as I was once one of them. I feel that I can help them by listening and also sharing with them my own journey. BoB has a fun and loving atmosphere where clients and volunteers look out for each other.
Alban Turner (2013)
I am both grateful and thankful for attending the BoB training workshops as I found them to be very necessary for my recovery. I’ve found a sense of wellbeing and found that I can now manage life on life’s terms. I do not feel so alone and with the support of my fellow volunteers there is now hope of me reaching my goals.
Anna Rooke (2011)
The social club has a secret magic formula that can only be known by those who experience it. As a volunteer I’ve felt it take effect time and time again between check-in, when so many of us are struggling with low spirits, personal issues and difficult weeks, and check-out, when somehow
Sarah Stubbs (2009)
At the end of one of the shifts at the Social Club when most of the people had left, one service user started to recite some of his poems. They were beautifully composed and delivered with such real and understated emotion that the ‘soppier ‘of us came closer to crying. It was such a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and what was even more rewarding as a volunteer was to know that he had enjoyed it as much as we had, and he was kind enough to write a note thanking the volunteers for providing this service.
Gary Revri (2009)
I have been a volunteer with other organisations but none quite like this one, which offers you initial support with your own personal demons and training options in the various areas around working with others with drug and alcohol issues.
Theresa O’Sullivan (2009)
Where do you live? I can see France from my window but every weekend I swap my sea view for the Hammersmith and City Line and the Social Club. Everyone asks me why? Why? Because I love what I do with a vengeance. It has been a lifesaver for me. My real family don’t like me anymore and if it hadn’t been for my SUDRG family I probably wouldn’t be here. The love and support I get from them is worth bottling – but it would probably be addictive!
Aidan Gray (2009)
This is a service driven by working with the immediate needs of the people who come through the door (on one occasion I remember twenty people entering in as many minutes). They are not driven by the need to attain ever increasing statistics. Consequently there is just time to listen to someone and enable them to feel heard.
It’s good old basic human interaction, knowing that someone does care and will give you the time of day. It has restored my faith in the field, and I think that those of us that work in the field need to remind ourselves of why we started in the first place.
Nikki Mannee (2009)
When I came out of treatment in January I was really desperate to give some service, and I knew that all across the industry of addiction they don’t want you until you are two years clean. I was so shocked when I came out and these guys interviewed me and took me on. I feel accepted and I feel that just because I am not two years clean that doesn’t mean I can’t give something back to another drug addict. This just blows me away. I am so happy, I cannot believe it!
Peter Helmer (2009)
He talked about his crack addiction and what had lead up to it; what he had to do to fund it; the girl friend he had lost, the normal life he had left behind. What amazed me was how open he was. He showed his vulnerability and suddenly it was like two kids on the pavement, just chatting, sharing what it was like to be human and discussing how sometimes it just completely goes ‘tits up!’ The really lovely thing that happened is that I just forgot why I was there and who he was. I saw who he was without the labels ‘drug addict’ and ‘volunteer.’ We were just a couple of humans – being.
We’ve become infused with hope, positivity and love for our fellow man (and woman). Who knows where the transformation took place: it may have been sparked by the warm glow of a service user trusting us enough to confide in us about a problem; it may have been the mind-purifying powers of serving up 40 sandwiches in the space of an hour and forgetting you had any problems in the first place. Or it may be the experience of being part of a community of people who have felt like outsiders their entire lives and finally find what it means to belong.
Radha Allen (2009)
It may sound like a small thing but to help change someone’s day changes mine, and all for the better. Making someone else feel good in turn help me to feel good. It’s a privilege having someone open up to me. It means there is trust and you can’t buy trust. There is something unique about giving my time to people who are in a similar position to the one I was in for eighteen years up until a year and a half ago. This helps me not to go back there. I love doing it. It makes me feel great.
Dympna Breen (2009)
I have met so many great people who have motivated and enthused me. I have now started a course and feel good about the future and I don’t think it would have been possible without the influence of this magical place.