My Journey with Biploar Scotland
Volunteering Support Fund
I had just finished an Advertising and PR course at college when I applied for a voluntary administration role at Bipolar Scotland. Having Bipolar Disorder had made the demands of a full-time course very challenging, so I decided against going to university. I had planned to alter my medication which could mean side affects and mood swings so I didn’t want to commit to anything I couldn’t finish. This is what led me to look into options of volunteering. Having had to leave school before my exams and being unwell for many years, I had never been employed in any sense before. I was hoping to get something for my bare looking CV and gain some experience for the future.
When I attended my interview for the administration role, I actually got offered a role as a digital volunteer based on my experience in college. They felt I would be better suited to creating content and managing their social media channels. I was happy with this as it meant I could effectively make use of my own lived experience and also allowed me to be more creative. I was tasked with scheduling social media posts telling people about the dates and locations of meetings, increasing engagement with followers and creating graphics to be used. I would also be required to promote significant events such as World Bipolar day and the annual conference. The flexibility of working hours and not being under any pressure when I wasn’t able to work was extremely helpful.
After a few months working at Bipolar Scotland I was given the responsibility of writing their monthly newsletter. One of the benefits of working in this role is the skills I’ve developed. Through carrying out different tasks I learned how to use Hootsuite, Mailchimp and Gmail which will all be useful tools in the future. The newsletter again allowed me to use my lived experience of Bipolar and having that perspective helped me when deciding what content to include.
I was then asked to take over from someone and help develop a project setting up online self-help groups for young people. This involved learning how to use Zoom video conferencing and working out the logistics of hosting groups online including creating house rules. Working out what we would have to change from face to face groups when converting these to an online setting. We then had to organise and set up various trials online to make sure the idea was feasible. The project was a success and has now become an ongoing part of Bipolar Scotland’s services. Fortunately, it has also became vital in helping us deal with the current Covid-19 crisis as we’ve moved all of our groups online.
Not long after I had finished the online group project, one of my colleagues left her position as volunteer assistant, and her position became available. I decided it would be worthwhile applying for the position, even just for the interview experience. For the interview I had think of a new service Bipolar Scotland could introduce and pitch the idea to a panel. I enjoyed the challenge and I feel my experience of presentations in my years at college helped me. The interview went really well and shortly after I got told I had got the job. This felt like a great achievement to be finally earning working and earning money after leaving school ten years previously.
Now I am currently working 16 hours a week managing the wellbeing and data of Bipolar Scotland volunteers, working on social media communications and helping out on various other tasks when needed. I have also been given the opportunity to free online courses through the organisation and I am currently enrolled in an Information, Advice and Guidance course. Becoming a volunteer at Bipolar Scotland has helped me develop many skills and my confidence has grown as a result.