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Meet Cleo, volunteer peer mentor in Camden

20 February 2023

Cleo shares what her experience of the training course was like, and what she gained from volunteering.

Why did you volunteer as a peer mentor?

I never volunteered before because of lack of time, but I always wanted to do something like that. I studied mental health, I’m a professional in my home country Brazil, but when I moved here 22 years ago I started a different career. 

When I heard from a friend about the training, that it was free, I said ooh, that would be awesome.

I wondered, how am I going to be helping someone just talking? But then I realised some people just need somebody to talk to.

They don’t need you to give advice, they just need someone to be there for that person. I found that really pleasant.

I saw one person as a mentee. I’d see him in the day, and then I could finish my work afterwards.

What was training to be a peer mentor like?

This training is so amazing, because it makes you aware of things but doesn’t put you on the spot as a person. You don’t have to talk about yourself and your own experiences unless you choose to, you don’t have to expose yourself.

I enjoyed the way they did the exercises. They were based on examples for us to discuss, and how we would respond; putting us as mentors, how we would deal with a situation. Then they’d guide us with what we should do or shouldn’t do. It was really amazing.

It was 4 days of training. I think there were about 15 people, and it was lovely to meet so many people. Many people who are training to volunteer have had mental health issues before. They went through therapy, they were in a difficult situation in the past and they’re just trying to give back what they learned.

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a peer mentor?

It would be an amazing opportunity for them to get properly trained. The style of the training, I really liked that. If they can understand what other people might be going through, they can approach people without judging – so it’s helpful for the mentor and the mentee.

I feel really sorry I can’t do it anymore, it was really brilliant.

Join the next training course in Camden

Peer mentoring training from VoiceAbility is co-produced by people who’ve used the service, and facilitated by a longstanding peer mentor. On the course you’ll learn key skills like active listening to help you prepare to support someone experiencing mental health challenges.

Dates to be confirmed for the next peer mentor training course in Camden.

You don’t have to be based in Camden yourself, but the support you give will be in Camden, so you’ll need to be near enough to travel. Your expenses will be paid, and you’ll be supported by an experienced team.