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

Becca's story

On the outside, I had a perfect life and was working in a high profile career. That was before my addictions started to cause consequences in my life and to the people around me. 

I’d been struggling for years with undiagnosed mental health problems triggered by childhood trauma, and I had been self-medicating with a combination of alcohol and drugs from the age of 13.

In truth, I had been an addict for many years, but I finally realised that I had addiction problems when I suffered a miscarriage in October 2013. My drinking took on a new meaning and became my primary coping mechanism.

Soon after this, my workload increased dramatically and I discovered that I needed more than a ‘little drink’ to get started in the morning.  Due to the nature of my career I was able to hide my growing alcoholism in plain sight. I also believed that because I lived in a big house in the Surrey Hills, drove a nice car, was happily married and had three beautiful children, I ‘had it all under control’.

But the disease of addiction is progressive and doesn’t discriminate and by 2016 things began to unravel.  My husband left and my children went to live with their father. I lost my job and my reputation, and I alienated my friends and family.  This was when I first started to attempt to come into recovery. 

After two years of many near-death experiences, and being raced to rehabs and hospitals, I finally made it into recovery at a rehab in South West London in 2018.  I’m now three years clean and sober.

After coming in to recovery I realised I was at a turning point in my life. Recovery helped me to understand how my addictions were rooted in my childhood experiences, and to process the choices I’d made in my youth. It taught me what is truly important in life.

Since the start of 2020, I’ve been a volunteer for the Amy Winehouse Foundation and I share my experiences as part of the Resilience Programme for Schools. 

This has been extremely rewarding for me. I have discovered that sharing my experience, strength and hope with children in such a way that I can inspire hope and empowerment that there is a ‘better way’ than the path I chose, makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile with my life and giving back. 

I believe a career helping others with their wellbeing and mental health is where my future lies.