Davina, our Safeguarding Assistant, has recently started volunteering at a local wildlife sanctuary and shares her experience with us here.

'For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been spending my Wednesday mornings volunteering at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but one thing or another has always gotten in the way. However, in July I finally found myself in a position whereby I had some free time and contacted the sanctuary to ask about volunteering on-site. After three quarters of my house came down with Covid in mid-July, I had to push back my start date to the beginning of August, but on 4th August I was finally out of isolation and ready to get started.

I should probably explain why I chose a wildlife sanctuary rather than a charity shop to volunteer. Firstly, I spent 10 years of my life working in charity shops – even managing my own at one time – and while I enjoyed those years and all the interesting people and stories they brought into my life, I needed something different.

During the 2020 lockdown, I, like a lot of people, found great comfort in nature. I spent countless hours wandering through woodland with my children, listening to bird calls and watching the trees change, and I found some peace from the chaos of our altered world. We explored paths we’d always been curious about, and I think we all felt a lot better for being outside, surrounded by nature and wildlife. So, when my mental health started to take a downward turn around the spring of 2021, I knew that nature, wildlife and time outside were the best remedies.

It also goes without saying that I love animals. I always have, and I am never happier than when in their company, whatever form the animal may take. Since starting at the sanctuary, I’ve learnt how to care for hedgehogs, scrubbing out their cages and replenishing their food and water. I’ve also learnt that, rather like people, some hedgehogs can be grumpy and really don’t like to be disturbed. I’ve even been growled at by one or two, which isn’t something I was even aware that a hedgehog could do! I’ve untangled tawny owls with neurological problems from towels, talked nonsense to a fox whilst being observed by a curious woodpecker and bored a ferret to sleep, all of which were very unique experiences for me.

I’ve also spent some time cleaning out a long-empty cage in the large gull enclosure, whilst simultaneously trying not to step on inquisitive young gulls and gagging at the overpowering smell of rotting fish. But rather than being put off by this, I enjoyed the camaraderie of a grim shared experience with two people I’d only just met. Animals are good for my soul, and it turns out that animal-lovers have a similar magic. We all share the same objective; we all love these creatures, and we all want to help them in whatever way we can. Of course, not all of our charges are grateful, but it doesn’t matter because just being in their company is enough to tangibly improve my mental health and overall well-being. It might not work for everybody, but I’m certainly finding that it’s doing a great deal to help me.'

We are currently looking for a Volunteer Fundraising Assistant here at Community Counselling so, if Davina's experience has sparked an interest, we can't offer ferrets or hedgehogs but we are all very friendly and you could make a real difference to our service. Click here for more information. 

We are grateful to the Co-op Member's Coronavirus Fund for their generous donation of £500, made June 2020, to help us deliver vital support to the communities that we serve.  This money will help defray the cost of providing cleaning and other health and safety materials as we start to resume face-to-face work at our main hub in Malton.  

A new website has been launched to help prevent suicide.  The Suicide Prevention Network focuses on the needs of those who are at risk of suicide and were already struggling even before the Covid-19 outbreak.  

Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust have launched a new mental health crisis support line.  The number is 0300 0200 317.   We have not been provided with detail about the hours that the new help line is open as yet. 

The NHS has published advice on how to look after your mental health during the Covid-19 crisis.  Please click here to access the website.

These are our suggestions on how to manage your Work Life Balance [WLB] whilst working at home:

  • plan how you're going to use your time, so you feel you have control;
  • take care to plan relaxing activities as well as work;
  • take regular breaks away from the screen;
  • if you're having meetings by video e.g. Skype or Zoom bear in mind that it is more intense working in this way - you can get a lot more done in the same amount of time.  Meetings can be/need to be shorter - your concentration will dip sooner and you will have achieved more anyway;
  • take regular exercise - it's a good way to set you up for the day.