We talk to Sarah Kholia, a former peer support volunteer for and now peer support worker for Parents 1st Essex as we celebrate Volunteers Week from 1 - 7 June.

"I started volunteering for Parents 1st Essex around March 2019. After having my own children, facing some difficulties and struggles I wanted to offer something back to the community. I came across a leaflet from Parents 1st Essex and straight away got in touch. I enrolled onto a volunteer training course, it took place once a week over 6 to 7 months with them being quite flexible with school holiday and other commitments from the group which was brilliant.

We were given handbooks to work from, the training was so inspiring it was very professional and equipped you with all the information that was needed. A typical day volunteering was to fit in a visit to your pregnant mum that you are supporting and just give her a moment of your time, an ear for her to speak to and a familiar face for her to share things with. Then a simple diary sheet that needed to be filled in just stating what things you covered and thoughts of the session.

Volunteering has been amazing, it has helped me with my own confidence, getting organized, fitting it into your own busy schedule being a Mum, just honestly very rewarding and it does wonders for your continued career path. I am now a paid member of staff for Parents 1st Essex. A role came up as a peer support worker and I had gained enough confidence and ground knowledge to apply. After a successful interview I was offered the role which I am now still in. The turnaround for me was amazing, I loved volunteering and now I also love my job, I am very passionate about it.

Peer support is an amazing thing, it's support that is different to what the professionals do and it's non judgmental. It uses our own experience which offers Mums hope that things will all work out, it is an amazing support and the networks we use are also very useful. Mums have fed back that I have been a support of a different nature, someone that is not connected to anyone else, I am a great listener and that they have grown in confidence to be a great Mum. If you are that you have something to offer as a volunteer just do it, your time is appreciated and the support you can offer can make a huge difference to others."

Want to become a Peer Support Volunteer? Find out more, register your interest today by contacting us: [email protected]