Information for Volunteers

Information for volunteers

Our ‘lived-experience’ volunteers are passionate about helping young people make wise and informed choices.

Lived-experience volunteering

Volunteers working in our resilience activities have all overcome significant personal issues. Those that have struggled with alcohol and/or drugs are now living substance-free lives.

They use their own experiences of substance misuse and recovery to educate students, parents and teachers about the underlying reasons why some young people use drugs and alcohol to change the way they feel, and what can be done to prevent this.

Volunteers gain confidence and self-esteem, improve their presentation and interpersonal skills, and increase their access to training, education and employment.

All our team members graduate from an accredited training programme. To be able to participate, volunteers must be in stable recovery and pass disclosure and barring checks (DBS).

Volunteers go on to do great things

Volunteers said their experiences with the programme could be applied to further training opportunities (82%), further and higher education (87%), and paid employment opportunities (84%)*.

75% of volunteers said they were more confident and 76% saw improved self-esteem following participation*.

Volunteers reported improved planning skills (62%), interpersonal skills (75%), presentation skills (64%) and communication skills (71%)*.

*Stats from Year 2 of an independent evaluation of the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme, led by a team based between Harvard University and the University of Bath, 2016

What our volunteers say

“It’s one of the best things I’ve done in four years of volunteering. All the work I’d done previously was geared toward helping adults already in addiction so I’m very grateful to have had the chance to maybe help even one young person avoid that.

I’m now in full time employment working with adult offenders but I wouldn’t have got this job if it were not for the experience and support I was given by the Amy Winehouse Foundation and Young Addaction.”

Former volunteer, Halton

What our volunteers say

“The training was so supportive and really interesting. The close supervision from my line managers was so valuable, it’s something that we all need in early recovery.

AWF really supported me to do my first share in a school. I always describe the feeling of coming out of a school after a share as being something like no drug could ever give someone – you feel on top of the world.

I started to get a sense that I was really helping people, especially when young people would come to speak to me after the session and share their own experiences, seeking out help and support for themselves.

When I first came into recovery I was terrified of professional people, but the respect from staff in schools and other agencies built my confidence and self-esteem so that I am used to working alongside professional people these days.

I felt like I was back in the real world and in amongst all the other people going about their jobs. Working with AWF made me feel like a million dollars.

AC, volunteer

What our volunteers say

“I have suffered with addiction since the age of 12 when I first started using mind altering substances. In 2016, I hit my lowest point [and] my mother wrote a letter to the Amy Winehouse Foundation asking for help.

I was offered a place in a rehabilitation centre [where] I was finding new things out about myself – aspirations and passions that had been clouded for years.

I was offered the chance to go into local schools and colleges to share my story in the hope that it might help somebody else.

I began training…and I got to know volunteer coordinators and staff who helped support me…and most of all they lit the fire in my stomach which made me want to better myself and work in the young people’s substance misuse service.”

E.O, a former Amy WinehouseFoundation volunteer, now works in young people’s services in the north west.

Steven’s story

Steven had spent most of his life in prisons and institutions. Then, in 2017, he started recovery and began training with our volunteer programme.

He spent time practising his ‘life share’ in front of staff and peers before eventually talking in front of groups of young people in schools. The response was always brilliant, with children asking lots of questions and generating lots of constructive discussion.

The skills Steven learnt during his training and volunteering helped him get a part time job facilitating groups himself. Now, he volunteers in his home town of Fleetwood as a support assistant for the Amy Winehouse Foundation lived experience team, which sees him supporting peers in the community.

Steven says that it feels great to be able to give something back to the same community where his own struggles took place.

He now also visits prisons to share his story and give hope to those in similar positions that recovery is possible.

Steven has also gone back to college and completed Maths and English qualifications. He recently moved into independent accommodation and also passed his driving test. These, he says, are all gifts of recovery.

When asked about his volunteering experience with the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Steven says it gave him crucial structure during his early recovery. Taking public transport, fulfilling work appointments, making friendships; these all helped give him a sense of equality, dignity and respect.