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What is Independent Advocacy

Conversation with Tom

A man in navy blue jacket, Tom

In this conversation we catch up with Tom, one of CAPS’ volunteers. We find out what brought Tom to CAPS and what volunteering is like for him.

Why did you decide to volunteer with CAPS?

I went along to an open day run by the CAPS worker that was very informative and helpful. I enjoyed meeting the people that were there. The reason that I stayed on with CAPS is because of the interactions that we were having both within the group and with others that were outwith the group. The main focus, which is still very attractive to me, was that we were interacting with various groups with the aim of contributing to positive changes in various areas related to mental health.

How are you involved with CAPS?

Well, at the moment the group that I’m mainly involved with is the ‘Experiences of Psychosis’ group. I’m also involved over the last couple of years in the ‘Out of Sight Out of Mind’ exhibition so I’ve prepared a couple of things for that. I like the idea of having different ways of presenting materials to people that maybe don’t know as much about psychosis as we would like them to. And I’m also involved in some peer work just now with CAPS staff Victoria and Madhu.

What is it like to be a volunteer with CAPS?

I think the work that CAPS does is key in enabling talk about mental health to be normalised within society. So, working with a wide range of people with different opinions on things, CAPS is able to accommodate these opinions and provide a forum for voicing them, which is great. I think CAPS is one of the best organisations that I’ve worked with in terms of these objectives. I think there’s a general perception in society, that’s very much media driven, about what it’s like to experience psychosis, or what it’s like to interact with someone who’s experienced psychosis. Even mental health professionals have ideas that may be simplistic or inaccurate with respect to actual lived experiences. CAPS provides opportunities for interested parties to work positively together on these issues.

Innovative. Teamwork. Worthwhile.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering for CAPS?

Look at the website first of all, look at the range of activities that are there, the range of experiences, the range of groups. I mean I don’t know the details of what goes on in other groups I just happened to have joined a group that works for me. But if I was talking to someone who was thinking of volunteering for CAPS then I would suggest to them to try it. The best thing to do is to come along to the group sessions and you can contribute as much or as little as you want to. Also, CAPS is interacting with all sorts of organisations. For example, CAPS has an affiliation with Queen Margaret University, which I took advantage of, and joined a six week Mad Studies course. That was great: it was excellent and I learned a lot. It was also an opportunity to meet with other people outside of CAPS. What I would say is that there are unknown opportunities that will come up as a result of getting involved with CAPS.

My final question is do you have three words to describe your experience of volunteering with CAPS?

Innovative. Teamwork. Worthwhile.   

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