Steph, TESS Support Service Volunteer

"I'm 29, a volunteer for TESS and a recovered self injurer. My years of self harm were ones of acute loneliness; I felt like I didn't even understand myself or my feelings, so how could anyone else? Self harm is an issue often misunderstood, one that can be tied up with feelings of guilt or shame, but a service like TESS provides not only a safe space to share these feelings but somewhere they can be fully heard and validated.

If a service like TESS had been available during my years of self harm, I am fully confident it could have spared me from a lot of pain and confusion. 

It has been during the past few years as I have grown in strength and confidence that I felt determined to give something back and help  others in similar situations to my own. Working for TESS has not only helped me to validate and further heal my own experiences with self-injury, but has given me hope for the current generation of young women. You may feel lost, angry, sad and confused, but you are not alone. Help is out there, and there are people who will listen."

Freya, CASS Helpline Volunteer 

"I decided to volunteer for SIS because I strongly believe in the feminist ethos of women helping other women, and I wanted to be able to give something back. It's also really easy and convenient timing to fit around the rest of my life. I find the work fulfilling- you can really tell that what we offer is extremely meaningful to people. I've had the opportunity to learn so much about psychology, and the nature of empathy and relationships. What I like about the service is it's completely non-judgemental openness, and its willingness to 'listen without fixing' which I think can be really hard to find elsewhere."

Rosa, Marketing and Awareness Raising Volunteer

"I have been really enjoying the role so far and it is such a friendly team to be around in the office. I work as a Campaigns, Volunteers & Events Manager in the charity sector but felt I’d like to volunteer in a women’s support organisation after work. It seemed to me that Self Injury Support provide such needed services – and in a previous job I had supported female survivors of domestic abuse and found this rewarding, and in my own time I have been involved with women’s rights groups. Therefore I got in contact with Self Injury Support and was really pleased that they were able to develop a volunteer role for me.

So far during my volunteering time I have been writing a project plan for Self Injury Support to further promote their training days. I’m designing an awareness leaflet, and have been reviewing the current contacts, alongside researching new organisations that may be interested, such as universities and nurse colleges. I have also been helping out with a few other promotional and awareness raising activities and a trust fundraising application.

Coming in to the office it is clear to see the absolutely amazing level of support that the dedicated team provide to women in emotional distress and those who self-injure. The Helplines and other services seem such an essential service to many women. I was shocked to learn that the UK has one of the highest levels of self-injury in Europe. It is vital that there is greater awareness in the UK about this issue and the undeserved taboo alleviated so that women are more likely to reach out for help when they need it."

*names have been changed in line with our service confidentiality policy