With national Volunteers Week having only recently been celebrated, we asked Helen, one of our research volunteers about how she began supporting Health Action Campaign and what’s been the highlight of her time with us.
Q: How long have you been volunteering at Health Action Campaign?
A: I’ve been volunteering at Health Action Campaign (HAC) for just over 2 years. I was actively looking for a volunteer role where I could use my research and writing experience to make a positive difference. HAC fitted well with my interest in wellbeing and mental health. I applied for the role through the Reach Volunteering website and soon after met with Michael Baber (HAC Director). Before I knew it, I was officially part of the HAC volunteering team.
Q: What’s your day-job?
A: I’ve been working in research for the last 20 years. I currently work as a Research Manager in the financial services industry. Getting involved with HAC has not only allowed me to utilise the skills I’ve gained in my day job, but has also been an opportunity for me to gain new skills.
Q: What’s been your highlight volunteering at Health Action Campaign?
A: Earlier this year, I contributed to the HAC Employers Guide to Health at Work (https://www.healthactioncampaign.org.uk/assets/documents/employers-guide-to-health-at-w-2) providing guidance to employers on how they can support the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees. It’s a topic I’m passionate about and something I had previously blogged about, so it was a great opportunity to be able to provide research and input into actionable guidance that can be used by a wide range of employers.
Q: Why would you recommend volunteering?
A: Volunteering is a great way to utilise my skills to make a positive difference beyond my day job. Knowing that I’m helping to provide insight and input in a way that helps promote physical and mental wellbeing is incredibly fulfilling. I can also volunteer remotely from my home in the Mendips which means I can easily fit it around family and work life. I’d recommend volunteering to everyone!
Do you have relevant skills you’d like to volunteer to support our health research and campaigning? If so, we'd like to hear from you.
Contact us on email@example.com
Nicole’s interest in preventing childhood obesity led her to volunteer for Health Action Campaign. Here she explains more about her volunteering experience with us.
What led you to volunteer with Health Action Campaign?
I came across Health Action Campaign through my interest in preventing childhood obesity, as a result of my MSc in Nutrition for Global Health and my work as a Health Adviser.
I immediately expressed my interest in volunteering as there is a big emphasis on the prevention of physical and mental illness, rather than just cure and treatment. HAC also acknowledge the importance of addressing health inequalities when it comes to these preventable conditions, which I really support.
How have you helped?
I have helped to review and update articles on obesity prevention for the charity’s sister website ( www.agewatch.org.uk ) including reviewing the government’s current Childhood Obesity Plan for HAC. I have also helped in our social media campaign, posting relevant content on preventing physical health problems where possible.
Have you found that as well as contributing you’ve also learned new things?
I have learnt useful skills in translating scientific research into more simple, summarised health information for the wider public to understand. I am also learning how to best engage and capture public interest through social media when it comes to explaining why prevention is better than cure.
Would you encourage other people to volunteer for Health Action Campaign?
Definitely! You can help at any time and from any location! I have found my role very beneficial in helping to keep up to date with the latest research and advances in public health and health prevention.
Do you have experience and skills you’d like to volunteer to support our health research and campaigning? Get in touch this Volunteers Week.
Current Volunteer Vacancies
Image Researcher and Curator
Researcher – Student Mental Health project
If you have experience and skills that you think might help in other ways, including as a member of our Social Media team, we’d also like to hear from you. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
We asked Sophie, one of our research volunteers, about how she began supporting Health Action Campaign and what’s been the highlight of her time with us.
Q: What led you to work at Health Action Campaign?
A: I always really enjoyed the research I conducted at university during my Psychology degrees; it allows you to expand your knowledge and work with all types of people.
Although I was working in mental health following my studies, I definitely felt that the academic elements were lacking. I decided that becoming some sort of research assistant for a future career venture would be perfect for me so I looked into ways I could gain some more experience - and voilà, after a bit of searching online, I found an advertisement looking for a mental health researcher.
Q: How important is the charity's message that prevention is better than cure?
A: In society there is so much focus on what can be done to reduce the symptoms of mental health conditions or how to reverse obesity etc. However, if we targeted preventing these health issues before they had the chance to arise, there is a greater chance that they wouldn't manifest at all.
I am a supporter of early intervention because it is so important in preventing the development of many conditions which may in turn become extremely difficult to treat once the seeds have been sown - not to mention the impact they will have on the individual and the amount of time/money consumed.
Q: What's been your highlight volunteering for Health Action Campaign?
A: I have been volunteering for Health Action Campaign since early 2018, and in that time I have co-authored an article on mental health featured in Perspectives in Public Health and also become Associate Mental Health Editor for our social media pages. Volunteering here has helped develop my skill set and given me new opportunities. I am excited about continuing to work toward supporting the prevention fight.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in making a difference, helping others and learning new things (including about themselves) to join us as a volunteer!
In the run up to national Volunteers Week in early June we asked Daniela, one of our volunteer researchers about her experience of volunteering with us.
Q: How long have you been volunteering at Health Action Campaign?
A: I’ve been volunteering for around 3 months. In January I received an email from REACH asking for a researcher for a student mental health project in London and I was interviewed the following month.
Q: What led you to volunteer with Health Action Campaign?
A: I applied for the position because I was interested in the topic and I had a long experience of supporting students. I also had some published work on the adaptation of foreign students.
I was a university teacher for many years, but I took early retirement and since then I’ve been volunteering at Cancer Research UK. I was looking for an opportunity to use my experience and knowledge to complement my other volunteer roles.
Q: Have you found that as well as contributing you’ve also learned new things?
A: I feel I have got more from Health Action Campaign than I have given so far.
The project is very well organized and the coordination is excellent. Meetings are well planned and effective. Tasks are distributed according to the interests of each member and everything runs very smoothly. At the end of each meeting I feel I have learnt something new and I feel better for it.
Q: How have you helped?
A: I’ve analysed media reporting on student mental health: I’m focusing on the period between 2008 and 2018, but have also gone back to articles written in 2000 to understand better how the media approach to the subject has evolved.
Mental health issues have attracted much attention in recent years and thus the number of articles on the subject has increased exponentially. This makes my task quite challenging, particularly because mental diagnostics thresholds are changing and because negative feelings and emotions are now increasingly described as mental health issues, in a way that might not have been the case a generation ago – making comparison over time more complicated.
My contribution to the project is from home and the project coordinator is always ready to help.
Q: How important is the charity’s message that prevention is better than cure?
A: When it comes to mental health, very important. That’s why we’re currently analysing different factors associated with student mental health in order to prevent what triggers mental problems.
Q: How have you felt about volunteering with Health Action Campaign?
A: It has been very good to have the opportunity to cooperate in this project and to meet other people who share the same interests.
I certainly would encourage people interested in contributing to a better society to volunteer for Health Action Campaign. Mental health concerns everybody, not only health professionals. The contribution of members of society from different backgrounds is essential if we are to fully grasp the complexity of mental health issues and implement effective actions.
Do you have relevant experience and skills and would like to volunteer to support our health research and campaigning? If so, we look forward to hearing from you - at email@example.com
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