Latest Blogs Colette's Volunteering Story My very first career in life was a Radio Operator with the Royal Navy, this gave me strong insights into working alongside people in what at times could be some very stressful and isolated environments. I was on nightshift at Commcen Portland when the Iraq war broke out, there was a lot of pressure on us to deliver highly confidential communication accurately at high speed and we pulled together over the following weeks to keep information flowing. We learned strong skills to pull together as a team, I was young, away from home and learning to make my way in the world. I spent some time South in the Falkland Islands working within a joint military environment, it entailed long hours, repetitive shifts, very little time off, but incredible rewards when we did stop and have times to discover a very remote and beautiful Island that had been the topic of another famous British Conflict. I married a sailor and now have four grown up daughters, he remained in the Navy for a further twenty years and life saw us travelling, the girls are very adaptable from this experience, I registered as a Childminder to keep their life as stable as possible, although we all encountered the reality of trauma based outside Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire through the Afghanistan conflict, where we pulled through together with the help of our community as we encountered inevitable losses. Despite having held down a professional career I found the prospect of going back to a work place environment scary, homebased work had been a wonderful experience but I realised that I had truly lost some confidence in other areas, and so a friend suggested that I returned to work as a volunteer on the reception at Willows Counselling in Swindon, and the rest is history, I worked my way through the different levels of Courses required to become a Counsellor and I realised that I had a real passion for helping people alongside their own recovery in Mental Health. I received my Level 4 certificate in Therapeutic Counselling in Wiltshire 2012, which working up through levels 2 and 3 eventually I arrived after five years of studying. The balance of study and family was not always easy, but enhanced the work that I was doing and every experience was an opportunity to fine tune much needed empathy which sits naturally at the heart of the work. On relocating to Dorset, I researched somewhere that I could continue to offer my support and although quite a distance from home, I discovered the STARS team and I was accepted to work alongside them as a volunteer Counsellor. This role began voluntarily in 2016 where I was able to develop experience alongside other volunteers with the same interests and I was determined to make this my future career. Seeing people recover as they undertake a life changing experience is incredibly rewarding. To offer them space to really feel heard and understood makes each day a pleasure to get up and go to work. I am currently undertaking the next level 5 Psychotherapeutic Counselling in Dorset alongside my Part time role. We were awarded some Financial support for a project offered by the NHS in October 2017 and my voluntary role took me into a paid role with STARS, where I now work based closer to home and expanding our service to clients who can access our Dorchester offices easier than Poole. This has been amazing, to be part of our service and see us expand and establish, reaching out further across the county. I am part of a wonderful team, who are all unique and we all have so much to offer individually within our service. By nature I am a true introvert and I have found a place where I not only feel accepted but I feel I can be my true self and really resource my natural skills within all that STARS have to offer, We have team days occasionally which are great fun and see us all coming together and putting a day aside to connect with each other. There are regular supervision groups or one to ones which offer continuous and valuable support. There is also plenty of ongoing training available and opportunities, as STARS is a charity there is a wide range of support and skills needed from fundraising to supporting clients. I never feel pressured to do anything that is not my strength and I always feel fully supported and encouraged to develop the areas that really reflect my true self. This makes STARS a very unique and accepting environment where our journey as Counsellors is valued, recognised and resourced so that we can continue to meet and adapt to the ever changing needs of our communities in Dorset. If you would like to become a volunteers for STARS Dorset please click the link here for information on roles available and who to contact. Thank you.