Meet the Team – Lydia Volunteer

Meet the Team

This week’s blog introduces you to our Volunteer Lydia.

To help a story unfold, I send out various questions to each person willing to share. Then, turning these answers into the Designs in Mind journey each person has experienced with us. Each time I learn more about how Designs in Mind help shape lives for all who are involved with this fabulous organisation.

I asked Lydia to.describe her role here at Designs in Mind, in her own words:“I am part of the Listen & Connect team of volunteers. I’m here to listen to members (one-on-one or in the main art studios), act as a support, and assist in facilitating a non-judgemental space for members to express themselves and make art together.”

I asked Lydia, how she heard about the Volunteer role at Designs? She wrote:“I had just moved to Oswestry, I wanted to find things to do, to get me out of the house and into the local community. I quickly found the Designs in Mind website and saw that they were actively looking for Listen & Connect volunteers. Both the organisation’s mission and it’s art studio space interested me greatly, I couldn’t wait to learn more!”

I can relate to wanting to learn more, I felt the same!

I also wondered what the draw was to choose Designs in Mind, was art the clincher? Lydia shared:“I have a background in ceramics and digital design and wanted to be able to lend those skills while continuing to build them. Additionally, I found Design in Mind’s unique offering of a working art studio and a supportive space for those facing mental health challenges intriguing and wanted to learn more.”

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Lydia’s Ceramic Lemon

It’s great that Lydia had experience with Ceramics and her input has been of great value. The digital design skills have recently been poured into producing a brochure for Designs in Mind too, so Lydia has been a perfect match as a volunteer.

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Lydia’s Embroidery

I went on to enquire if this was Lydia first time volunteering: she shared:“I also volunteer at our local hub of Shropshire Supports Refugees, where we are currently working to provide all-around assistance and English lessons to Oswestry’s population of Ukrainian refugees.”

At Designs in Mind we have all our volunteers attend the Samaritans training. I asked Lydia to share about the skills this training has given her, she wrote:“The Samaritans training provided me with an excellent foundation in the skill of active listening. The two Samaritans workshop facilitators took us through several interactive scenarios that opened my eyes to the power of simply listening. You do not need to answer or even respond particularly— just let people know that they are being heard and understood. This is an important form of validation and is a good place to begin connecting with people hesitant to engage or open up to you.”

As we know many people face various Mental Health Challenges in life. To be a volunteer with us it isn’t necessary to have experienced any of these challenges, yet lived experience can be an advantage. Lydia was happy to share in her words:“I have sometimes had bouts of anxiety and very rarely experienced panic attacks.”

I’m always keen to see how volunteering with Designs in Mind may help our team to grow comfort zones, raise well-being, confidence or anything else it’s helping them to feel about themselves. Lydia shared her answer to this question and I love how this has given her such a diverse experience! She wrote:“I had not done much work in counseling or mental health, though I do have experience mentoring university students. I have found that volunteering at Designs in Mind has made me exponentially better at striking up conversations with people for the first time and working people out of their shells. Getting to know the diverse array of people at Designs in Mind has also allowed me to learn so many surprising new things from the complexities of self-publishing to the best time of year to shear your sheep!”

As a massive planner myself, one who attempts to carve out future goals and plans, I always end with these types of question, such as:

• Is anything else you’d like to share about your own personal journey in life?

• What the voluntary role may lead to?

• Where do you see your life heading in a few years’ time?

• Is this Volunteer role a springboard to other things you’re aiming for?

From Lydia’s answer I can really see how the relationship of her volunteering with Designs in Mind has really been so very mutually beneficial, Lydia shared:“I am going to be completing a 12-month Graduate Diploma in Law at Oxford Brookes ,beginning this September 2023.

I am planning on doing an additional qualification in Human Rights Law alongside the course. I then aim to work on research and policy development that affects positive change for the vulnerable and marginalized. Working at Designs in Mind has definitely allowed me the opportunity to learn about and see the reality of many topics that are of deep interest to me and may very well be a focus of my work in the future.”

We take this opportunity to thank Lydia for her time spent sharing her journey with us for this blog post, for her valuable input to Designs in Mind as volunteer and to wish her every success in the Diploma and qualifications she is aiming towards. We hope to hear more about your achievements Lydia, hopefully you’ll come in and visit us to share what life’s bringing to you as it unfolds. Best of luck to you.

Blog Written & researched by Willow, Member & Social Media Coordinator