Men’s Health Week 2021
To celebrate Men’s Health Week 2021 and ask the question of how men move forward with their mental health in the current climate, we caught up with Joe Duffield to learn more about how volunteering helped him through tough times and improved his mental health.
Tell us a bit about you?
I am Joe Duffield, and I’m 39 years old. I’ve lived in Morecambe for two and a half years – I was born in Scotland but moved to Blackpool as a child so we could be near my grandma, and I grew up in Thornton. My dad died of alcoholism, and I had a lot of problems when was younger, so I started to use drugs and alcohol a lot. I got into a lot of trouble and at my lowest point, I became suicidal. Moving to Morecambe was the best move I ever made, as it’s where I started my recovery.
Tell us about your volunteer journey so far?
I currently volunteer for The Pavilion Detox Unit in Lancaster, where I help with aftercare groups and people preparing to return to their families and communities to live a life without drugs and alcohol. I started volunteering whilst I was in supported housing – a group leader from the Community Sports Initiative team came and asked a group of us if we were interested in volunteering, and I said yes. The Challenge Through Sport Initiative (CSI) is an innovative behaviour change programme for people in recovery – mostly from substance and alcohol misuse, but also people with mental health issues, gambling addictions, and isolation and family problems. The project complements sessions or treatment being offered by other agencies and is led by support workers who are on their own recovery journey.
A key focus of the project is to get participants who are often in poor mental and physical health engaged in sport and physical activity to improve their long-term health. I am now a fully qualified boxercise instructor, and I have worked for CSI for over a year now.
How did volunteering improve your mental health?
I used to volunteer for Red Rose Recovery, helping out with group meetings and activities for people who were also in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Volunteering really helped my mental health, and helped me to get out into the real world and regain my self-worth and self-respect. It was a safe space, and I loved being part of a team – Red Rose Recovery are a community of like-minded people who want to support each other and really understand what it takes to stay clean, and that makes such a difference. I also helped out on an allotment where being outside helped me to appreciate nature, and through volunteering with lots of different people I learned to be grateful for what I had.
What would you say to other men struggling with their mental health?
My advice to other men who are struggling with their mental health is that it’s really important to go out and try something, even if it’s only for an hour a week. It’s so important to get out from your own 4 walls, and to be part of something where you both give and receive from others; you are never going to win against your own head, so just get out there. The range of activities I have been involved in through the places I have volunteered means I have really increased my confidence, and I am willing to give anything a go now. I am just myself and I am really grateful for all the opportunities and all the people I have met.
If you’re interested in offering volunteer opportunities through Tempo, or volunteering with an organisation in our network, get in touch here.