Caring about... Your home Volunteer of the Year Stephen Sharp has volunteered for Care Network since 2013. The groups that Stephen volunteers his time to support have people each with their own unique support needs, histories and stories. Stephen supports and facilitates a range of mental health and wellbeing peer support groups. Stephen goes above and beyond in supporting the work of Care Network and is passionate about ensuring the residents of Blackburn with Darwen have somewhere to come to offload and support each other through difficult times. Community CVS Volunteer Award Ceremony To celebrate Volunteer Week 2018, CVS invited all the amazing volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to charities and services across Blackburn with Darwen to an evening of fun and celebrations. Stephen was nominated and shortlisted for two awards – Volunteer of the Year and Volunteer Award for Contribution to Health & Wellbeing of Blackburn with Darwen residents, on the evening of the awards we're delighted that he won the title of Volunteer of the Year 2018. Four weekly groups that count on Stephen's hard work Stephen volunteers for Men’s Group, Relax and Chat, This is IT and Resolve on a weekly basis, and once a month Circles OCD Peer Support. He dedicates on average 12-15 hours a week to improving the lives of others. He is due to begin a training course for people interested in Peer Support, where he will be sharing his experiences with those new to group facilitation. The groups he supports through volunteering wouldn't happen without Stephen's diligence and commitment and the sessions make a very real difference to local people's lives - alleviating social inclusion, supporting skills development, helping people cope better with their mental health and improving IT literacy. The best thing about volunteering has been meeting everyone, the staff here are so nice and it feels like home. It’s been amazing and has helped me to get to where I wanted to and opened my eyes to the lives of people in the borough. What is good for me about volunteering is that it takes your mind off your problems, and focuses your thoughts on other people’s wellbeing, which makes your own wellbeing better. You meet a lot of people that have similar problems. It’s nice to help people, be friendly with them and supportive with each other. Teresa Kirby, Volunteer Coordinator said ‘Stephen is always on hand to offer a friendly face and a gentle introduction to people coming in to the hub, whether they are new to the service or attend sessions regularly, we’re delighted that he has been recognised for all his hard work’. Volunteering opportunities If you would like to volunteer for Care Network contact us or drop in at Care Network Hub.