Posted on: 31 October 2022

This is Ania.

This is the story of how Ania became CNWL’s Volunteer to Career (VtC) Coordinator Lead. This is a story of struggle and suffering. But it is also a story of recovery. A story of how Ania regained control of her mental health and how her experience ultimately helped her into her current position.  

It all started when, at the age of seven, Ania developed anorexia. From this point until her mid/late twenties, she endured multiRania.Adams.pngple hospitalisations and brief periods of improvement followed by major relapses. Ania realised that something needed to change.

“My weight was critically low,” she said. “And I was unable to cope with my previous job or anything.

“Even though I was underweight, I was in denial of my anorexia, as my anorexia wanted me to get worse. I lost purpose, strength, energy, and weight, relationships, faith, veneration, and opportunities.

For Ania it took several attempts before finding a treatment that worked for her.

“I have had therapy in the past and I see all therapists as flowers, but my Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT) therapist at Vincent’s Square Eating Disorder Service was the only flower with a scent.

“I was therefore very receptive to CAT Therapy due to our connection, and she was like my secret diary.

“CAT therapy focuses on changing the perspective of someone. That changed perspective helped me see past effects that led to the present moment, and it also helped me to understand that pursuing my passion will motivate me to get better – that was the catalyst to start my recovery.”

Ania started volunteering to give herself a sense of purpose and help her take the next steps in her career. It was the missing piece of the puzzle.

“I didn’t know how to talk about my anorexia,” she said.  “My employment specialist recognised and understood how I was feeling and believed that volunteering would be a great way to start and experience a field I’m interested in, with support, flexibility and the right hours.”

Every week, Ania would meet her employment specialist to work on interview techniques and put together her CV. CNWL’s Recovery College also offered her a range of courses, workshops and resources to further her education.

After a month of volunteering, she was ready to move into full employment at CNWL. Though she has a MSc in Human Resource Management, Ania was determined to use her talent in a different capacity and so joined the Volunteer Team.

Ania believes working at CNWL has “empowered” her to live a better quality of life in spite of her eating disorder, and hopes to use her knowledge and experience to help other volunteers to flourish.

“As the Volunteer to Career coordinator, my role is to help talented and ambitious individuals enter careers in the NHS through volunteer work. I am willing to go that extra mile to help volunteers get the best start to life and provide support to each individual that is tailored according to their needs.

“I’m passionate about helping volunteers and patients succeed, and I am zealous about making the volunteer experience interesting and memorable – it’s built into my DNA and lived experience.

“I plan to strive to connect with volunteers, talk to them as people not processes, discover new techniques, opportunities, and activities that will enable them to have unique and meaningful learning experiences, offer good paths for volunteering progression and personal development; and, ultimately, lead to a career in CNWL.”

“I’ve been nurtured by management really well. I have had the opportunity to work as a Volunteer Administrator, Check-in & Chat coordinator, and now a Volunteer Career Coordinator Lead. Helping people makes me feel happy. It’s about creating an experience for volunteers that they will be able to reassure for life.

“Some people do their jobs because they have to. I do my job because I love to. For me to share my journey with people and that I work for CNWL makes me proud. I can have a down day and when I speak to volunteers and my team, I glow.

“Even to this day, I feel like I'm about to wake up from a dream; did volunteering really get me here?”