First Step

Project information

First Step Provides 1:1 information, guidance and support for people recovering from mental health and wellbeing issues. The aim is to link people into volunteering and learning opportunities, as a means of strengthening and maintaining their health and wellbeing, whilst enabling them to become active members of their communities.

Though the project has been established for over 16 years, it has adapted its offer to become part of an integrated service offer at CoLab, which has seen some excellent results.

A wellbeing survey with participants in April 2017 identified that:

  • 77% reported feeling more independent and in control
  • 71% felt more confident
  • 69% felt more able to make decisions about their lives.

Feedback also demonstrated overwhelmingly that volunteering increases ‘a sense of meaning’, ‘personal relevance’ and ‘identity’. In addition, the sense of personal responsibility gained through social contact nurtures self-esteem and confidence.

What we have learnt over the years is that people benefit from volunteering because they are able to form social connections, develop relationships, and gain a sense of purpose and self-determination. This in turn facilitates transformation from dependence to independence, as people gain tools to move forward with their lives.

Over the last year, from 88 people accessing the service, 64 have achieved both supported and independent mainstream volunteer placements, 24 have achieved a recognised qualification through our Learning programme and 17 have moved into paid employment.

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