After more than a decade of working hard and playing hard in my spare time, my lifestyle finally caught up with me; I burnt out in spectacular fashion, descending into addiction, losing my job and my home in the process.

Life became a matter of survival until I engaged with WDP and was helped to gradually rebuild from the ground up. I was encouraged to attend training to become a peer mentor by my keyworker.

When the opportunity came up to help welcome new service users in the Induction Group I took it, even though I wasn’t sure sharing my experience of recovery would be relevant to anyone else. The positive response I got from the group members hearing from someone who had been in their position and managed to turn things around made me realise I could have an impact.

The role helped me build my self-esteem back up and I felt like I had some purpose again. With the confidence that brought me, I decided to go back to studying, and enrolled on a counselling course.

Over the three years I have been at college, I have continued to volunteer at WDP in various roles. I recently did some great experiential training with other volunteers that gave me a boost in my skills.

Finally, impossibly, I’ve come full circle and am helping train a brilliant new group of peer mentors. I’d never have believed it if someone had told me that one day I’d be in front of a class teaching, but here I am.

If you are someone who is considering taking up a volunteering role, my advice is to grab the opportunity. The experience that I’ve had at WDP has been encouragement to challenge myself in a supportive environment. It has allowed me to build skills that have opened up options for me to get back into work and turned what was a very difficult time in my life into something meaningful.

Anthony's experience has also featured in DDN Magazine, which you can read on page 6 here.