To mark Volunteers’ Week some of our amazing volunteers tell their stories about volunteering for London Friend. Here’s Helen's story.
I've been volunteering as a facilitator at a coming out support and discussion group for women at London Friend since 2009. We always tell new members how brave they are; we don't often talk about how scary it can be to start volunteering. There's nothing like being among new people to remind you of the things you feel self-conscious about, not least when most of them are looking to you to run the session!
As a gay Christian, I'm used to feeling a bit self-conscious about both those aspects - too gay in church and too Christian in the LGBT community. When it came to volunteering at London Friend, knowing only too well the negative experiences of religion that you can encounter as an L,G,B and/or T person, I was particularly worried that group members would be angered by the fact that I went to church or would find it hard to trust me and I'd lose credibility as a facilitator.
Over time though the fact that I've worked through my own anxieties around faith and sexuality and know about some LGBT-friendly religious groups and welcoming local churches has actually turned out to be something of an asset.
If your faith matters to you it can be a huge relief to know that it's not irreconcilable with your sexuality and it's been a wonderful privilege to be able to help people at such a vulnerable time for them.
More than anything I've come to realise that rather than worrying about fitting in, it's actually vital that volunteers reflect the diversity of the community.
You never know who is coming through the door and it may just be that what you think is a potential problem is the very thing that can help someone out.