I’ve been volunteering for FareShare since August. I first got into it through EVOLVE, Izzy first put me forward.

At FareShare, I usually clean the offices and break down the boxes. When I first started I was order picking. I’ve been out a few times driving too. There’s a lot of choice about what to do. If you want to be a driver’s mate, they try to make it happen. Staff who work there really look after you too, they see it as part of their job. Unfortunately, I sometimes call up and say I’ve been drinking and I can’t go. And they check up on me, and make sure I’m OK.

Lots of different people volunteer there. If you need a care worker with you then they can come too. There are lots of people who have severe autism, people who’re in wheelchairs, or need care. They get involved, and staff are really helpful.

The hardest part is having the motivation to get there yourself, the transport’s hard. Going to the bus shelter it’s cold, instead some people choose to stay warm inside. During winter it’s hard to stay motivated.

But your self-esteem goes up when you start volunteering.

You’ve got a reason to get out of bed and start living. It’s easy to live in supported housing and just mope and get high all the time, but it’s important to get out. Volunteering at FareShare keeps me active and healthy.

My childhood was really sad

I was bullied a lot at school, I had nervous asthma. I didn’t start talking until I was 3 years old…I didn’t have a great start.

I ended up having trouble with alcohol.

I lived at Emmaus near Bedford for 13 months. Then at Brighton’s Emmaus. Then I moved to YMCA Brighton. When I first moved to here I was so nervous. I thought every bloke had a stanley knife in their pocket. But then you realise that’s not true. A lot of the people are nice. I think a lot of the staff here are nice. Caring staff have helped me the most.

It’s quite a good place, it makes you feel quite secure. Good thing about supported housing is the staff are always smiling and upbeat, that’s good if you have mental health problems.

I have autism, but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 39. My dad said it but I didn’t want to accept it. It was hard, but it was helpful getting my diagnosis. Once diagnosed I no longer saw myself as a weirdo. I didn’t know that part of my autism could be an obsessive or addictive personality. That fell into place for me when my doctor told me. I don’t see my autism as a problem now. I have high functioning autism. It means I see myself as having a special brain. One part of the brain doesn’t develop properly but the other part can over develop. I’ve got a very good memory, for example – so I’m good with appointments and timings.


*Photo and name changed to protect the client’s identity