4 June 2021

During National Volunteers Week, we wanted to share with you Bambi’s story (pictured above). Over the past year Bambi has been supported by our Community Connecting team where young people all over Exeter are introduced to activities that increase wellbeing and enrich lives. For Bambi, volunteering has played a big role in their story and this is what they have to say. 

“My name is Bambi and I live in Exeter. I grew up in Torbay and studied music at Falmouth university. After uni I wanted to live by myself, but I also wanted to live somewhere central and feel connected so I moved to Exeter from Falmouth in November 2019. I find change very stressful, so the move itself was stressful, so I took time to rest as I settled into my new home.
By the time I was ready to explore a bit, Covid and lockdown happened. I suddenly felt like I was locked into a place that I knew nothing about and I felt very isolated. I was having trouble with my sleep and I knew that I needed a purpose to wake up every day.
I went to the GP and asked for support for my mental health. I wanted a referral to the Community Mental Health team, but instead I got prescribed a social life. I thought they were joking! I was shocked to find out how amazing and supportive my community connector was from YMCA Exeter. I felt listened to and supported in my decisions and goals.
The first thing I started going to was a crochet group. We met in the park and it was a mixture of crochet and ukuleles. I’m a multi-instrumentalist singer songwriter and I really enjoyed the musical aspect alongside crafting. I have learnt many new crochet skills and I am working towards starting my own online crochet shop.
I also wanted to have a volunteer role that would help me build skills and think about a potential career. My community connector suggested I look at St Sidwell’s Community Centre. They’ve been an incredible support to me. I started volunteering in the cafe as a barista and waitress. It’s given me the chance to learn vital skills for future work. I’m now volunteering in the bakehouse, learning bread and cake making skills and helping to organise the new bakehouse premises. Now I have a real sense of purpose and a role within my local community.

On Mondays you can find me volunteering in the Cafe and on Thursdays I’m volunteering in the bakehouse. I’m also in the middle of writing my first album filled with songs written during the pandemic.
What advice would I give to someone who finds themselves isolated or struggling with low mood?
Pop into St Sidwell’s Community Centre and have a cuppa. There is so much to get involved in. I’d also recommend getting speaking to a Community Connector. If you know what you’d like to do, or even if you don’t, they’ll help you find ways to get involved.”