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News Achievement

is rewarded Continued from page one

with each of them on their cases. Together we learned what worked and what didn't work.Within two years I was a leader in a newly-de- veloped national networking or- ganisation for mediation and helped write the national training manual.” Since then, thousands of people

have been helped by Annette and her team of trained mediators. Annette was nominated by pre-

vious winner and former Maid- stone mayor Mike FitzGerald, who said: "Throughout her time with Maidstone Mediation Annette worked tirelessly. Her legacy is Maidstone Mediation, to which many other mediation groups turn for support and advice. They were the first to deliver restorative justice across Maidstone and to work with schools of all ages." Annette also uses her experience

to influence the national agenda through her involvement in the Restorative Justice Council where she has been part of the Standards and Accreditation committee for more than five years. To nominate someone you be-

lieve deserves recognition in the 2016 awards, go to www.cele-

How volunteering gave me a new drive for life

A MAIDSTONE man has de- scribed how volunteering for In- volve’s community transport service helped him to recover from a mental breakdown five years ago.

Steve Cottonwas employed as an engineer for 45 years, but after re- covering from a head-on crash in his work van, he suffered a break- down. He said: “It totally changed

everything and I was unable to go to work. I’d look in the mirror and although it was the same person I was looking at, my brain was scrambled. Herecalled:“Mypsychiatrist said

Iwas burned out after working too hard. She said if I hadn’t had the breakdown the chances are I would have had a heart attack or a stroke. Iwas doing long hours; I’d be work- ing from 5 or 6 in the morning to 10 or 11 at night and this happened regularly.” As he was unable to return to

work, Steve’s counsellor suggested he started volunteering. “No pay, no work”, he responded. “My counsellor pointed out that it wasn’t just for other people.


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4 Maidstone Town Xmas 2015

Throughout my working life, most of what I’d done had been on my own and I’d always been self-re- liant. But then I suffered my break- down and that self-reliance went out of the window. “She said I needed to get involved and be in con- tact with other people, and that it would do me the world of good. I visited In- volve’s office, did my DBS check and got started.

“From the first client they gave

me, something sparked and I’ve en- joyed it ever since. It didn’t take me long to settle. I’ve got people to talk to, people you can understand. They’re fun, they know a lot of his- tory. I’ve been there ever since. “We pick the clients up at the

door, we take them where they want to go, then bring them home and make sure they can get to their door. It evolves as much or as little as youwant it to. “There are certain people that

you are compelled to help. “If I didn’t have the volunteering there’s a fair chance I’d just be at home and wouldn’t have done any- thing. You stay active in this role, you’ve got to think about what you’re doing and where you’re going. You’re not thinking of your- self all the time, you’re thinking of the people you’re helping because many of them are pretty frail.” Steve recommends other people

get started with volunteering like he did. “If you are capable, if you have the time, volunteering is an ideal thing to do, especially if you’re on your own.You get out, you meet people and they’re always grateful. If you have a couple of free days a week you can fit it around other commitments. You can do as much or as little as you like.” Community Transport provides a

low cost alternative for Maidstone and Malling residents who are un- able to use public transport, whether due to disability, frailty or illness. Anyone who would like to become a volunteer driver should call 01622 756662 or email commu- for more information.

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