~ Juliet Amponsa-Gyasi

So what does a Group Facilitator actually do?
The short answer is simply to facilitate.

Facilitate

The focus of the support groups is not for the facilitators to do all the talking. We simply give the people who attend a welcoming, comfortable space as well as time and security to speak if and/or when they want to about issues surrounding their past/present/future feelings about their eating related issues. The group sessions also give the attendees a chance to reflect on their feelings and emotions during that week, to help verbalise how they have been doing. We try to ease the flow of conversation and encourage people to take part, but we are happy for people to just sit and listen until they feel comfortable enough to speak themselves.
When I think of the volunteering experiences I’ve had, being a facilitator stands out so far above the rest. The importance of just being able to listen and engage well without talking (too much) really comes in to play during the weekly meetings. All facilitators receive training in how to run the support groups as well as how to deal with sensitive topics. It’s really been amazing to be able to hear so much about other people’s experiences and to see just how far some people have come in recovery. The support groups are a great way to get people interacting more and to allow attendees to support each other without anybody telling them they are going about recovery the wrong way (us facilitators will see to that). Sometimes the topics can get quite difficult but at every meeting there is support available for the students as well as the facilitators themselves. Each group is run by two facilitators and after every meeting each facilitator gets a supervision Skype or phone call to feedback on how the session went and whether there were any issues that came up during the meeting.
Volunteering for Student Minds so far has been a truly rewarding experience. I’ve not only built upon transferable skills but also helped run a support group that really helps people to help themselves as well as others. Again I can’t stress how amazing it is to hear somebody tell you the sessions are really helping. It’s even helped me too! I’ve been surprised to realise how much I’ve learnt from some of the attendees in terms of overcoming difficult situations. The sessions have really helped me to broaden my perspective on certain things and I couldn’t be more grateful for such an amazing insight. The courage it takes to even attend the meetings speaks volumes and talking about issues that affect all students really allows the experience to be well suited to anyone. I couldn’t recommend the experience enough…
So guess what!!! Student Minds is recruiting new volunteers for universities all across the UK from the 18th November 2013 (so right now)! Here is your chance to not only gain skills and experience related to your chosen career or job but also a chance to give your time to help somebody else to start enjoying their own time more too. If you have a genuine interest in helping others and have good interpersonal skills then you should be in with a great chance of being a facilitator in the new year. Applications close on 20th January 2014.

Want to know more?
If you would like to know whether your university has a Student Minds group, click here
If you would like to know more about getting involved/ volunteering with Student Minds, click here
If you would like to donate to Student Minds, click here
Want to know more about Student Minds in general? Click here
Student Minds Mission Statement
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