Thirteen continues to open doors through volunteering

Sarah Parkinson, who’s volunteered with Thirteen for over four years, has recently left us but is using the valuable experience she received as a volunteer counsellor to support and work with people who are experiencing domestic violence.

Sarah Volunteer

16 Jan 2019

She first heard about volunteering with us when she was at university, and Natalie Rae, Thirteen’s volunteer and peer mentor, gave a presentation to students who were looking for placements to complete their counselling degree.

“When Natalie came into college to talk about volunteering with Thirteen, I was keen to get involved. Natalie was enthusiastic and passionate about what Thirteen could offer a volunteer, and I felt that it was something that I wanted to get involved in.”

Sarah volunteered as a counsellor at many of Thirteen’s schemes where she's worked with vulnerable client groups. She supported numerous customers and received positive feedback from staff regarding successful customer outcomes. Although keen to continue as a volunteer, Sarah was successful in gaining employment as a paid counsellor and is now in post.

Reflecting on her time as a volunteer and what she enjoyed the most, Sarah said: “Everything! I loved the opportunities and the challenges it gave me. I enjoyed seeing people progress throughout our sessions and receiving feedback that they felt able to cope with life a bit better.”

Sarah feels that volunteering with Thirteen developed her counselling skills, built her confidence and gave her the opportunity to help make a difference. She added: “I’d like to think that I’ve had a positive influence and I have had some lovely feedback both from the services users and from the team’s I’ve worked with.

“Plus, I’ve been so impressed with the support I’ve received from Thirteen, and that’s why I’ve stayed on as a volunteer for so long. I feel that as an organisation they’re genuinely interested in my progress and wellbeing, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”

Natalie Rae, volunteer and peer mentor coordinator at Thirteen added: “Sarah has been a fantastic volunteer, and I’m so proud of what she’s achieved. She was an integral part of our volunteer counsellor service and has helped so many people. Although Sarah started volunteering to meet her degree requirements, she continued beyond this and became a part of the staff teams. The feedback we received from staff about the service, Sarah and the changes in customers was remarkable”.

Our volunteer counselling service, which is part of Thirteen's employability function has recently recruited another two volunteer counsellors who'll also offer counselling sessions in our vulnerable supported housing services.

If your interested in volunteering with us please get in touch by emailing