Walking the Dog: a blog from our neighbourhood volunteer Melanie

Melanie with one of the dogs she walks in a park in summer

One of our brilliant Volunteer Wellbeing Champions, Melanie, shares her experience of volunteering in a pandemic.

Melanie has been volunteering as a dog walker in Salford. These are her reflections from lockdown:

A big challenge for me has been facing my fears during Covid-19,  how I was going to cope with my mental health and anxiety during this situation. This volunteer opportunity has helped me to stay grounded. The gratitude I have received from doing this, I cannot put into words.

Having to care and have some kind of responsibility for an animal has helped me with my self esteem and to stay positive during this pandemic. It’s been great to receive affection from the dogs and being out and about surrounded by nature. It has really helped to have a reason to go out and experience some social interaction whilst chatting to the dog owners. Just realising you are lifting the dog owners’ spirits has lifted my own. When I have taken the dogs for a walk it also meant I could interact with other dog walkers in the community, obviously whilst following social distancing rules.

I’m on zoom so I can connect with other people but it is a whole different thing being able to go out and walk a dog, experience nature and being able to interact with people face to face.

I have just completed my level 3 counselling course at Manchester College. As part of the course we were asked if we were doing anything to utilise the knowledge and skills gained. I told them about the volunteering I am doing and how through conversations with the dog owners they feel able to share their problems with me. This has involved me using listening skills and being empathetic. The residents feel they have been heard and listened to.

I now feel more confident, uplifted and have discovered a passion for working with animals / dogs and their owners. I am now considering a place I’ve been offered at University to study counselling at degree level and an opportunity to undertake the up and coming wellbeing conversation training offered by SCVS in partnership with ICT & Age UK.

Salford CVS
Author: 
Melanie, Volunteer Wellbeing Champion

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