Volunteer Access and Mental Health Visiting and Activity Programs

Volunteer Access Program

As volunteering can be an important step in any recovery process, the Volunteer Access Program focuses on inclusion and supports for individuals who face mental health or substance use challenges. Volunteering can help you:

  • Build new skills
  • Gain valuable work experience
  • Become active in your community
  • Obtain job references
  • Connect with people
  • Gain confidence

Volunteer Access provides the one-to-one supports and tools that people need when making that important first step towards volunteering or moving into new volunteer positions. Volunteer Access can help out with any part of the volunteer process including:

  • Finding a good volunteer match
  • Help with an interview orientation and/or training
  • Follow-up support

Volunteer activities change but often include: Retail Assistant, Gardening / Organic Farming, Daycare and Childminding, Kitchen Work, Recreation Assistant, Visiting Seniors, Office Work / Computers, Environmental Projects, or Special Events.

Mental Health Visiting and Activity Program

The Mental Health Visiting  and Activity Program matches community volunteers with individuals living in mental health group homes to provide companionship and reduce isolation. Volunteers help residents integrate into the community by engaging in social and recreational activities such as: starting fitness programs, going for coffee, playing pool, going shopping, attending cultural activities or watching sports.

Volunteers and clients are matched according to their interests, locations and time availability.

As a volunteer this is an excellent opportunity to develop an understanding of mental illness as well as support somebody with their recovery goals. All expenses are paid and supervision is jointly provided by Volunteer Victoria and the group home.

For more information on these programs please contact Corinne at corinne@volunteervictoria.bc.ca or tel: 250.386.2269

Leah’s Story

As teenager, Leah Luckhurst was very interested in writing, and always kept a journal. When she was hospitalized – and without her journal – she would find tiny pieces of paper – and even paper napkins – to help capture her thoughts and ideas. As time went on, Leah, who lives with schizophrenia, realized that she would really like to have somebody help her to expand her writing. She requested a volunteer through Volunteer Victoria’s Volunteer Access Recreation/Visiting Program: a VIHA-funded initiative that matches volunteers with people living in residential housing.

Over a year later, Rebecca Kennel chanced upon the request for a “creative writing volunteer.” “I was looking for something in mental health,” Rebecca said. “…mental illness seems so widespread in our society, so visible…I wanted to learn more. Since I was actively involved in writing, this seemed like a perfect fit.” Rebecca had no idea what she had just signed up for. In the time since Leah had first requested a volunteer, she had become focused on writing stand-up comedy. Rebecca admits, “I didn’t know anything about writing stand-up comedy – and all of a sudden I’m helping Leah to write it. Neither one of us knew what we were doing…and then to see her take that material and stand-up on the stage and deliver it – I was proud that I had a little part in it.”

Fast forward three and a half years, and Leah is still expanding her creative repertoire. She performs for “Stand Up for Mental Health,” has explored cartooning and is making beautiful beaded jewellery, which Rebecca has encouraged her to market. Leah proudly states that “Rebecca offers me a “Zen” perspective – she’s become very special to me. I didn’t realize how special she would become when I first met her.” This is just one of the many heart-warming stories that we hear, and that volunteers get to experience, when taking part in our programs.

Volunteer Victoria is so appreciative of the many caring volunteers in our community – like Rebecca – who are making such a critical difference in the lives of others. Thanks to our partners and funders, Island Health (VIHA) for helping to make this program possible.