Lisa is the Community Development Manager at SASH.
SASH provides free, non-judgemental support to improve your sexual health, your relationships, and your mental health. Open to residents in Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster.
SASH is a partnership, led by Turning Point, alongside NAZ, London Friend, METRO Charity, and Marie Stopes UK. Each organisation brings their own specialisms and expertise, ensuring that anyone who uses the service gets care that is tailored to their needs.
How do volunteers contribute to SASH?
At SASH we have loads of opportunities for people to volunteer with us. We find that volunteers often bring new ideas to the service that we hadn’t even considered. It was through a volunteer with sewing and design skills that we created our “Crafternoons” and the role of our arts and crafts volunteer was born. We now have a youth engagement volunteer, a volunteer group facilitator and we’re hoping to develop a creative writing role very soon.
SASH also runs two peer mentoring projects, one for gay and bisexual men and non-binary people who are living with HIV and the other for women of colour who want support with their sexual and reproductive health. Our peer mentors are all volunteers who join us for regular socials, outings, 121 support and workshops.
Both our volunteers and peer mentors work alongside our staff team to plan and deliver our workshops and events like our SASH socials.
In what ways has COVID-19 affected volunteering activities?
Some of our volunteers and peer mentors have wanted to take a step back during this difficult time which we totally respect and appreciate. Others have found that this period has given them more space to volunteer with us. As a team we have had to think really creatively and learn fast how to move our predominantly face-to-face services online. This has meant supporting our volunteers to learn new skills and feel confident in using these different platforms. We now have our first virtual peer support 121 sessions taking place and have had volunteers supporting our groups such as our Sunday sessions.
How many people are involved?
At the moment we have two peer mentor coordinators, their role is to support our wonderful peer mentors and develop our peer support programme. We have 11 peer mentors in action right now with more people starting our training programme in June. This will be our first time running a virtual peer mentor training programme! We also currently have three volunteers supporting our service and are looking forward to opening up more roles soon. Some of our volunteers have gone on to apply for jobs at SASH and are now full-time members of the team, which is fantastic. I oversee the peer mentor coordinators and the volunteers – I have the best job in SASH!
What impact do volunteers make to your work?
Our volunteers enrich our team with the many skills and experiences that they bring. They have shaped how our peer mentor programme looks today and I am so proud of each of them. In December last year we held our first peer mentor celebration ceremony and hearing again their passion and dedication to supporting local residents and their own journeys to becoming peer mentors was both emotional and inspiring.
Why should people think about volunteering for SASH?
If you have the interest and passion to support people around their sexual health and wellbeing then SASH is the place for you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re drawing from your own lived experience or you just want to try something new and gain new skills. We don’t ask for our volunteers to be experts! We just ask that you are enthusiastic to learn new things, comfortable with the topics of sexuality and sexual health, non-judgmental, and empathetic to people of diverse sexual and cultural backgrounds. We will provide you with the training and support to grow your knowledge. If that sounds like you then we can’t wait to hear from you!