Helpline experiences of a volunteer, Tess’s story

I’ve been asked to write a little about my volunteering experience at Nacoa. I joined Nacoa in October 2011, not really knowing what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to give some time to a good cause, and feel that I was helping others. The training programme (there were about 25 of us) made us close very quickly, we were all very honest and open about ourselves and that brought about a lot of trust straight away. It’s an excellent programme, every week different, from expert lectures on the neurochemistry of alcohol, to specially organised Al-anon meetings where guest speakers share real experiences.

The helpline room is a calm place. It’s great to come in and catch up with old faces, and meet new ones. It’s great to mentor new volunteers through their first few calls and see the way it makes them know that they’re doing something good. Listening on the phone is sometimes easy, and sometimes hard. You don’t have to have all the answers; it’s not about that. It’s about just being there with someone, while they feel their pain. Sometimes people do come away from calls feeling differently – that they’ve got a new perspective on the matter, that they can start feeling that they really aren’t to blame, and that they can think about looking after themselves.

Sadly, millions of families in the UK are affected by alcoholism.  The problem is real, and we are here to hear about it. Volunteers are playing a vital role in Nacoa and I’m proud to be one of them, because the Nacoa family are the most supportive and decent people I know. Maybe some of you reading would like to join us! To see how you can help find out more about volunteering.