Loren's #BelieveInPeople story

A photo of Loren, she has red hair and glasses. The photo sits on a background of pink and blue, split diagonally.

In today’s #BelieveInPeople story, we spoke to Loren, who volunteers at our service in Brighton. She explains how her recovery from illness inspired her to change her direction, and how she believes that everyone has it in them to make a difference.

“I feel that we all have it within ourselves to change another person’s life.”

“When I was 33, I found out that I had a congenital birth defect in my heart. I’d been born with it and nobody knew, and I was told it would need to be operated on.

I had open heart surgery, and it completely knocked me for six. Doctors had warned me about how hard it would be, but there were times when I thought “oh my god, I’m never going to feel the same as I used to feel.”

Eventually, it was my GP who told me “You cannot let this define you.” Those words taught me so much. From that moment, I changed my life. I moved back to Brighton, and that led me to my role volunteering here with Change Grow Live.

A new direction

I originally trained as a therapist, so I heard lots of people’s stories of trauma and addiction while I was doing my training. I wasn’t actually training in addiction therapy, but it was something I always had an interest in.

I decided to look at volunteer roles, to make sure that I could keep using the skills I’d learned. I found Change Grow Live online and applied the next day. All through my interview I was encouraged to speak from personal experience, and behind everything was this idea of ‘believe in people, believe in people’. Well, I do believe in people, and I’ve had people believe in me, and I know the power of believing in someone.

There was a lot of room for me to really develop my volunteer role in the beginning. I was quite nervous, but I had a lot of people surrounding me. There wasn’t one person that I asked for help who didn’t help me, and who still helps me today.

One of the main things I do in my role is to contact people who are going off the radar and aren’t engaging so well with their appointments. I’m trying to bring them back into the service to engage. A lot of it involves calling people that I’ve never spoken to before, which I actually really like.

When someone has fallen out of contact with their recovery coordinator or hasn’t called back for a while or whatever, they’re often really worried about how they’re going to be perceived. They can be really hard on themselves.

When I contact people, I just take a very positive approach and reassure them that there’s no judgement happening. I like to feel like I’m that link to the service that helps them understand it’s not a case of anyone being mad at them, or that they’ve done anything wrong.

We’re all human at the end of the day, and I just go in with the hope I can help them realise and understand that, and that they can start coming back to their appointments again. As I say to the people I speak to, each day is a new day and a new chance to start again.

Believing in change

My biggest motivation to volunteer is the idea that I can change someone’s life for the better. And not only do I believe that I have that ability, I believe that other people have that ability as well.

I feel that we all have it within ourselves to change another person’s life. With everything that’s going on in the world, it’s difficult to feel that we can make much of a difference. We can feel powerless, but you just have to look around you and see there are good people doing good work.

There are times when I might call someone and they’ll tell me they’ve just been crying or are in distress, and you can be that person who’s there for them when they truly need somebody. I want to be able to call someone when they’re in the middle of something and reinforce to them that someone is there, even if it’s just seems like a voice at the end of a telephone. And by turning things around for them for that day, maybe you can turn things around for the next day, and the next. I can help them to understand that this doesn’t define them.

Understanding that my own experiences didn’t define me taught me a lesson that I think is so relevant for my role at Change Grow Live.

Once you digest that something that’s happened to you doesn’t define who you are, and you really take that in, it’s at that point that change becomes possible. My experience made me realise that you can change your life at any point.”

If you want to help other people change their lives, we'd love to have you on the team. Our amazing volunteers help us make a real difference to people’s lives.