Scott Murkin from Southampton is urging other people in the city to volunteer for us after he said doing so helped his mental health.
The 29-year-old, who studied at Southampton Solent University and now works for Quilter, has volunteered with us for four years, starting as a befriender and at Covid vaccine clinics during the pandemic.
He said: “In 2017, I began to recognise the privilege I’d been afforded. I was a white, single male in my 20s with a graduate job. The years of working hard had started to pay off and soon I was able to say goodbye to credit card debts and overdrafts, and instead say hello to savings.
“But, by Summer 2018, I still felt there was something missing, a sense of commitment and responsibility. With the way I’m wired, I like to be able to see the difference I am making, and I struggle to see my positive contribution if I can’t. That’s when I found Communicare. They had a simple mission, a purpose I could get behind, which is to enrich the lives of lonely and isolated people.
“I joined the organisation as a befriender and was paired with a service user based on their interests, as well as their support needs. And, with a background in the care industry, I was matched with an autistic adult in his 30s.
“All I have ever needed to offer him is my friendship, honesty, and an ear to listen. I’d go for coffee every fortnight and we’d generally talk about sport, action movies and video games. Sometimes, like any friend, he needed support when he was going through tough times, so the conversations weren’t always so light in nature.”
When the pandemic hit, Scott was unable to visit his service user, but would always call and text to make sure he was alright.
He added: “Not one to be idle, my nightmare was coming true, I was being locked in. I was watching my peers find their own ways of dealing with the newfound wealth of free time, but in my mind there were only two options, continue down a dark path to escape the reality of the situation I was in, or apply that restless energy to find a new purpose.
“Then, on yet another lockdown night, six episodes into yet another Netflix series, an email from Communicare arrived in my inbox saying: Urgent Help Wanted this Weekend with Covid Vaccines.
“I now had a place to be on the weekends, doing something that mattered. I had really missed small talk with strangers and with this opportunity I could get that back while supporting the local vaccination effort.
“It is hard to know your place in this world. No one can tell you what it is, but if you ever find that you are lacking a purpose, do something about it. It genuinely scares me sometimes to think what my story might have been without the responsibility Communicare has given me during my 20s. I’ve always been aware of my mental health, and this has been one of the most important things I have done during the battle to maintain sanity.”
We are so very grateful to Scott for all his time and the dedication he has given us. He has been a fantastic volunteer and he has made a difference to so many people’s lives, so we would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to him.
Volunteering is varied, our friendly Communiteers provide valued support in all sorts of ways. From making regular telephone calls, just to check in, which is great if you don’t feel able to meet face-to-face, as well as safely driving people to medical appointments, shopping for those unable to leave home, and of course, providing emotional support.
To find out more about volunteering, please click here.