My name is Ruth Swanson and I am 23 years old and currently in my final year studying Law (LLB) at Glasgow Caledonian University. I began with Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs in January 2015 having researched volunteer roles open helping those affected by alcohol and drugs.
I have always wanted to volunteer since I moved to Glasgow and appreciated the opportunity to get involved at Scottish Families. I wanted to gain real life experience that I couldn't gain from my part time job and from sitting in class. However, overall I think I just wanted to do something that had a positive impact for someone else.
As I have an understanding through personal experience of addiction with close relatives I think I was intrigued further by what Scottish Families do. It was the first charity I came across dedicated to the family members specifically. It's important that the families know there is support in place for them and that their experiences and emotions are significant when living with someone suffering from addiction. It's difficult for family members, including friends and neighbours, to acknowledge that they have needs too and that there is help out there for them and to help their relationship with the substance user.
I find it to be a worthwhile experience. It is very rewarding particularly when the recipient has been so thankful. Some callers have said that simply "talking over the phone" has been really helpful and "a weight has been lifted" which for many people is all they needed. Being able to hang up the phone knowing you have supported someone even just briefly, is worth the time you take to volunteer.
Taking a call is somewhat daunting at first but you do gain some confidence after gaining more experience and understanding of the individuals who call. In particular the Staff at Scottish Familes are extremely supportive and helpful, particularly during the training process where there is not a single question unanswered or ignored. They are very compassionate and attentive to the work they do and I have the highest respect for their service."