Will Pike – SIA Support Volunteer
Here we catch up with Will Pike who is one of our Peer Support Volunteers
How long have you been volunteering with SIA and what made you decide to support the charity?
I applied for a volunteer role this year and have been in the position for six months. I decided to join SIA because I felt that I would be able to make a positive contribution to those coping with a new injury.
How important was peer support to you in the early days following your injury?
At first, during my rehab at the Stanmore SCI Centre, I wasn’t interested in conversing with the Peer Support Volunteers. However, after a month or two had gone by, I clearly remember speaking with a volunteer about his car journey to Stanmore. I had never heard of hand-controls, so this was a major revelation, which certainly gave me a spark of optimism about the future.
What does your role as a Peer Support Volunteer involve?
It’s early days and I’m still trying to establish a routine, but at the moment I visit the Stanmore SCI Centre on a fortnightly basis to speak with the patients there. My Peer Support Officer is Lady-Marie Dawson-Malcolm, so anything else I can do to ease her workload is a bonus. For now though, I’m simply looking to improve my active listening skills so that I can have more meaningful conversations with the patients I meet. I’m still getting to grips with recording information without interrupting the chat, but wherever possible I try to introduce them to SIA’s network of services.
What do you think are the benefits of volunteering?
For me, there are many benefits to volunteering with SIA. Firstly, as I tend to work largely from home, it’s great to have something that gets me out of the house. Secondly, having performed various roles in the third sector over the past few years, it feels really good to be in a role that lets me connect directly with the service user – it’s so much more rewarding. Finally, I think there’s an aspect of volunteering with SIA that means I have another degree of ownership over my injury – it really is the definition of turning a negative into a positive.
When you’re not volunteering, what do you like to do?
Outside of volunteering, I try to live a varied life. I created a website (willpike.co) earlier this year to promote my own brand of disability activism, which all started because of a film I made to highlight accessibility problems on the high street. The film went ‘viral’ and presented me with a number of news and TV opportunities, which in turn has led to a semi-regular spot on the Sky News Sunrise Papers programme. I’m not sure where this path will take me, but I’m pleased to be able to represent wheelchair users in the mainstream media while furthering my own ambitions. I’m also really interested in electronic music production and have recently been taking lessons to improve my skills, which will hopefully encourage me to actually finish a track. One day I’d love to get something pressed to vinyl. Occasionally, my girlfriend and I like to visit Buttercups Goat Sanctuary in Kent. Other than that, I love spending time with my friends and family. My brother recently added a second child to his brood in Suffolk, so I’m looking forward to spending more time getting to know my new nephew, baby Felix.
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 edition of our bi-monthly magazine, FORWARD.
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Visit our Volunteering page for more details about how to volunteer for SIA.