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What is Independent Advocacy

A CAPS volunteer, Broc, smiling and wearing a blue shirt.

In this conversation we meet Broc, a CAPS volunteer. Broc tells us about his work as a volunteer and has some advice for those thinking of volunteering with CAPS.

Why did you decide to volunteer with CAPS?

I was at a seminar on eating disorders where everyone was really friendly, and people were sharing their stories. I had never been to something like that, but because of my lived experience I wanted to get involved in a way that could actually make a difference. I think it can be difficult to know how to help anyone without the support of a wider group that actually focuses on these issues. So I signed up as a CAPS volunteer just to see how I could get involved in something interesting and useful.

How are you involved with CAPS?

At the moment, we are focused on the Men and Eating Disorders research. I’ve just been involved in doing a bit of research into the issues faced by men with eating disorders, finding out the research that has been done and the kind of questions we want to get more of a qualitative response on, so not just numbers but also personal feedback on certain issues. This has taken a lot longer than we had anticipated, with designing the questions, the wording and what information we want to get. So, it’s been a long process of tailoring the questions in the direction we want.

What is it like to be a volunteer with CAPS?

Everybody’s really friendly and welcoming. I guess it’s because of the nature of what the organisation does that everybody is very understanding, open and give each other lots of space to convey their own views and feelings. There’s been opportunities to do a lot of different things as well. I’ve been involved with training groups of people, including university students, done storytelling workshops, and now designing the survey research. It’s also very comforting to speak with people whose lived experience is similar to yours. It’s interesting to see that you share lots of similarities but also differences, so you immediately relate to each other.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of volunteering with CAPS?

I would say definitely get involved if it’s something you’re considering. Even if you don’t think you’ve got a lot of time to put towards it, you can just throw in your little bit of help, and it will actually build towards something bigger. If nothing else, it’s just nice to speak to people either who relate to you or that are trying to do something important and useful to society.

Enlightening, rewarding, friendly.

Three words to describe your experience of volunteering with CAPS?

Enlightening, rewarding, friendly.

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