Endometriosis UK are recruiting new Volunteer Advocates

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Advocate Emma

Endometriosis UK are recruiting new volunteers for our advocacy service. Launched in Autumn 2015, the service has been inundated with requests for advocacy support and we desperately need more volunteers to help those women who need it the most.

Advocates are trained to give support and guidance in,

  • Dealing with employers
  • Communicating with health professionals
  • Coping with difficulties in personal relationships
  • Mental health issues
  • Accessing benefits
  • Any other issue relating to endometriosis

Volunteer advocates support women on a one to one basis, and receive full training from Endometriosis UK. We spoke to volunteer advocate and trainer, Emma, about her experiences of volunteering.

What made you want to become an advocate?

I have volunteered as a support group leader and became an advocate after recognising that some women with endometriosis have more complex issues that require an in-depth approach to seek resolution.

What do you love about being a volunteer advocate for women with endo?

I love that I can see and hear the clear change and impact you have on a woman’s life. You’ll meet a woman who quite possibly feels as though she has nowhere to turn to for dedicated support or isn’t aware of how to navigate complex systems such as the NHS, or gain employment and education advice, and the support you can give can turn their life around! Having the condition myself means that I can offer a more tailored approach to their issues as opposed to a generalist advocacy service.

What do you find the hardest?

The hardest part of my experience as an advocate is knowing that we repeatedly come across the same issues. Whilst awareness is increasing year on year, many women are still facing an average 7.5 years to achieve a confirmed diagnosis. By this point many have experienced difficulties in relation to their personal and working lives which can be devastating for them.

How do you feel you make a difference to women’s lives?

I think that my own experience of having endometriosis and the training and support provided by Endometriosis UK has really helped me deal with my own diagnosis, turning it into an almost positive part of my life. Women need to be able to have a space or dedicated supporter to turn to without fear of prejudice.

What has surprised you about being an advocate?

Definitely the need for the service. Whilst I know that endo affects 1 in 10 women within the UK, I think the advocacy service has really opened my eyes to the insufficient support or understanding in so many key areas.

Do you feel you’ve developed any new skills?

Definitely! The training from Endometriosis UK has allowed me to better understand the needs of women who have endometriosis and whilst the symptoms may be similar, the impact the diagnosis and treatment can have on women’s lives are completely individual.

Would you recommend it to others?

Yes! I can understand why someone might be anxious about becoming an advocate; it’s something new – the fear of the unknown! But here’s another way to consider it: you know how the woman feels and what she’s experiencing, so you can empathise with her. From the training you’ll have a better understanding of how to signpost and assist them in accessing support that’s specific to their needs.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please visit our volunteer advocate page and submit your application. Alternatively, if you would like to find out more, email support@endometriosis-uk.org. Recruitment will close on Monday 4th April.

The next volunteer training will take place in London on Friday 29th April and reasonable expenses are covered by the charity.

Endometriosis UK are supported in this project by the Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All.