Paul Anthony Hope has lived with bipolar for most of his adult life, having first been diagnosed at 26 years-old. In May 2017 he became a volunteer at the Pilgrims Hospices shop in Hythe. Here, Paul shares how volunteering has helped him turn his life around and live well with bipolar.
I’ve had bipolar since I was 26; it’s caused when a chemical in the brain becomes unbalanced. It can be disastrous.
Self-management is really important in dealing with bipolar; that means being able to look after yourself, working with the right people and having the confidence to keep going. I’ve always had people-focused jobs. I wanted to try and improve some of my skills like reading, writing and maths, as well as working on a till and with customers. So when Pilgrims Hospices opened a new shop in Hythe last year, it was a real calling for me for get involved. As I came in at the very beginning it meant I could learn how everything worked; once you’ve got that confidence, and with the help of the retail managers and the other volunteers, you can grow and grow. It’s transformed my life.
It’s such a good cause; volunteering for Pilgrims has improved my wellbeing and helped me with my bipolar as well because it’s given me something to focus on. It’s transformed my life.
A long, long time ago my grandfather’s chair was donated to the hospice at Canterbury. It’s such a good cause; volunteering for Pilgrims has improved my wellbeing and helped me with my bipolar as well because it’s given me something to focus on, something to get out of bed for. I’ve met lots of new people, too.
I’d recommend volunteering for Pilgrims because they’re a caring organisation; they listen to people and will give you the support you need to become a confident volunteer. A lot of good work goes on within Pilgrims Hospices that you can’t see. In Pilgrims shops, that comes down to the volunteers and the managers Louise, Frances and Tim. It’s not just one person, it’s a whole group of people who keep the cog turning. We are all part of one cog.
Every member of the Pilgrims team is there to support you to be the best volunteer you can be.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re bipolar, or a widower, or whether you’re married with a family – every member of the Pilgrims team is there to support you to be the best volunteer you can be.
Watch Paul’s interview
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Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.