A determined 23-year-old suffering from anxiety and depression has been given a new lease of life after becoming a volunteer.
Charlotte Aspin, from Mexborough, was crippled by her illness that made even basic social interaction a daunting task.
I remember to this day how difficult it was. It was the first time I had to deal with people on a daily basisCharlotte Aspin
But after plucking up the courage to volunteer at the Salvation Army she feels like a different person.
Charlotte started volunteering at the Salvation Army shop in Swinton when she was 18 and feels like she has got herself back on track.
She said: “During my last few months at sixth form, at 18 years old, I was formally diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
“In particular, I found social interaction extremely difficult, especially with people I didn’t know.
“But I was 18 and I needed to get out into the world and gain some work experience. I needed to face my anxiety head on.
“I took a leap of faith and began volunteering with the Salvation Army charity shop in Swinton.
“I remember to this day how difficult it was. It was the first time I had to deal with people on a daily basis – not just complete strangers, but colleagues that I had to build relationships with.
“I also suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, so I would constantly be worried about what I was doing, and how I was coming across to customers and the team.
“Did they think I was awkward? Did they think the way I interacted was strange? It all added to my anxiety.
“I’ve now been volunteering with the shop for five years and the support of the Salvation Army and the shop team has been an incredible help to me. I’ve been able to express myself as a person, and develop at my own pace.
“Even though I still suffer with anxiety, my experience in the shop has given me confidence in myself and my interactions with people.
“I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without my experience as a volunteer. About 18 months ago I went for an interview and got a job in retail.
“Volunteering gave me the skills I needed for my career, but it also gave me the chance to build my own self-esteem. I owe a lot to volunteering and the Salvation Army.”
With one extra day to make a difference in 2016, this leap year the Salvation Army is challenging its supporters to try something that’s outside their comfort zone.
The Salvation Army’s #LeapOfFaith week will run from until Monday, February 29.
As part of the campaign the charity will be sharing leaps of faith stories like Charlotte’s to inspire others.
* Visit the Leap of Faith story wall at Salvation Army Leap of Faith