I have been volunteering at WDP since October 2020 and started out as a Volunteer Recovery Practitioner.

I used to work in the fashion industry, however I made the decision to change careers because I wanted to make a difference to people’s lives. I have experience of addiction and I feel that I can make use of what I have learnt from my own recovery journey to help others facing similar difficulties with substance misuse. Having studied Psychology at the University of East London, I also wanted to apply my psychology background to my volunteering and work.

The best thing for me about volunteering [at WDP] is the wide range of professional training that is available. I have had the opportunity to learn and develop by shadowing some very knowledgeable mentors and by attending many courses. I was also able to gain valuable experience working with services users by co-facilitating health trainings and non-dependent groups.

As well as helping service users with their drug and alcohol issues, I have also been able help them with other areas of their life too. Some of our service users don’t have access to the internet and they struggle to fill in online forms. This can make it difficult for them to access essential services like benefits and housing support.  I have helped people access benefits and food vouchers by supporting them with form filling and contacting agencies.

My volunteering experience has also helped in my own personal life as I have developed transferrable life skills such as boundary setting, SMART goals, and office etiquette.

Volunteering has boosted my self-confidence and sense of achievement and has helped me achieve my career goal to work in the drug and alcohol field. I will soon be starting a full-time paid position at WDP as a Navigator Practitioner.

Don’t be afraid to try new things - volunteering is a life changing experience!

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