Volunteer story:Change Step
Hi. My name is Jason and I am a veteran from Wrexham, North Wales. I served with the Royal Army Medical Corps and saw action in the first Gulf War. Due to this action I went on to suffer from PTSD. For years I struggled to get help and I used to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. My life was going nowhere and I went from job to job not caring about anything. That all changed when I was introduced to Change Step.
Change Step is a peer mentoring service for military veterans who suffer with PTSD. The mentors are all veterans themselves and to me this is the reason why Change Step works so well.
I have been volunteering with Change Step now for 12 months and the change in me is amazing. The work they do is second to none in my opinion and I don’t know what I would be doing now without them.
The Change Step peer mentors can help with signposting to different agencies and services, such as counselling, benefit agencies and substance misuse services. They can also find and offer training courses suitable to the individual. On top of that, they are there to offer support in any way they can. The mentors themselves have been through similar experiences to me – it was so easy to relate and get along with them, as you felt that they knew exactly what you had been through, and that they had come through the other end.
Change Step often organises volunteer events in the local community. In the past we have helped tidy-up war memorials for Remembrance Sunday. This gave me an immense sense of pride and it was a good feeling doing something for the community. This year we are aiming to tidy-up 700 of the 2,000 war graves across North Wales. Again, this gives me and the other volunteers a great sense of pride. We have also worked alongside the Costal Rangers tidying up coastal paths, planting trees and clearing overgrown areas. These volunteer days not only benefit the community, but they are also good fun. The volunteering is therapeutic and working as a team is really good for people’s morale. I have seen great changes in veterans who join Change Step, even after just a few weeks with us, and these volunteer days fill them with a sense of pride and raise their self-esteem. For some of them, it’s the first time they will have socialised with others for a long time.
Twelve months ago I had no lust for life, no goals and no real interest in myself. I didn’t socialise and did not like going out in public because of my PTSD . The counselling they offered was superb and I can now leave the house without the feelings I used to get. Since being part of Change Step I have been on numerous courses, countless volunteer days and I, and others around me, have noticed a great change in me. This change would not have happened if it wasn’t for Change Step and I am so grateful.