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Being a Friend in Need: The Power of Listening and Support

In a world that often rushes past us in a whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities, there’s one thing that stands out as truly transformative: the power of human connection. Last week we celebrated Befriending Week (1 – 7 Nov) a nationwide celebration of the importance of fostering genuine connections and an attempt to combat social isolation. This short blog will highlight the motives behind this meaningful week and how volunteering to emotionally support survivors can not only enrich the lives of those you support but also your own! 

An independent enquiry conducted by the University of Hertfordshire in late 2020 found that 43% of CSA victims do not feel they receive adequate emotional support in adulthood. Emotional support doesn’t always have to be confined to a counselling room. It comes in different shapes and forms. Opening the door for somebody, a kind smile, lending an ear for a little while, etc., can go a long way in helping change this statistic, bringing solace and healing to survivors. Lots of charities/support services also offer emotional support roles for those of you who wish to make a transformative difference to a survivor’s journey.  

Why offer emotional support? 

  1. Empower survivors: Your presence and support can empower survivors to break free from silence and shame. A casual conversation for you can be their highlight of the day when they are given access to a safe and safe and non-judgmental space for to share their feelings and experiences. It offers them the chance to reclaim their narratives, something which survivors of abuse are often deprived of. 
  2. A rewarding opportunity: Ample research has been conducted over the years to highlight the impact volunteering can have on the volunteer’s own mental wellbeing. It goes a long way in inculcating a sense of fulfilment, boosts self-esteem, and introduces you to a world full of opportunities. 
  3. Skill development: Are you wanting to pursue a psychological or community-related career? Then emotional support volunteering can provide you with real-life hands-on experience and an opportunity to see the importance of empathy and listening skills first-hand. Find a role that suits your times and availability, like our emotional support volunteer roles that ask for a minimum of only 2 hours of commitment per week, – so that volunteering can be flexible around your job or studies.  
  4. Access to a supportive network: Volunteering is not a solo endeavour; it’s an opportunity to become part of a larger, supportive network. Joining an organization like Quetzal means being surrounded by like-minded individuals who share your passion for making a difference. If emotional support volunteering initially seems daunting, remember that the organisation and its team are a powerful support system! Through emotional support volunteering, there is also potential to expand your befriending skills through marketing and advocacy roles. 

Volunteering at Quetzal 

If you’d like to be-a-friend to someone in need, you are welcome to join us as an emotional support volunteer. We’d also love to hear from you if you’ve had any experience in offering support in the past. Write to us at volunteers@quetzal.org.uk to express interest. 

Your kindness and compassion can truly make a difference, one conversation at a time. 

Visit https://quetzal.org.uk/emotional-support-volunteer/ to learn more about the role. 

– written by Mariya Shan, emotional support volunteer at Quetzal

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