For Volunteers Week 2016, we have invited the team at The Spark Counselling to give us an insight into their volunteering. Jane Ankori (follow Jane on twitter) talks about her journey from interested newbie volunteer to becoming a member of the Board of Directors at The Spark Counselling.

As we kick off another Volunteers Week, I am thinking back to when I first volunteered 18 months ago to work with The Spark. Heading to their offices in Glasgow that morning, I didn’t quite foresee joining its Board of Directors a short while later!

Volunteer day 1

At the time I was working full time as a programme director, with a role that encompassed health, wellbeing and technology. I was looking to explore the work of other organisations with similar health and wellbeing goals. In particular, my work had a focus on the social determinants of health.

This was a topic I became interested in some years ago, after hearing a talk by Sir Harry Burns, former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland and current Professor in Global Public Health at Strathclyde University. His TedX talk “What causes wellness” is worth a view, but essentially he emphasises the importance of relationships, community connectedness and meaning and purpose to health and wellbeing.

Volunteer Day

Jane enjoying tea & scones day with the team

The Spark, with their focus on improving relationships through counselling and support was an ideal organisation for me to volunteer with. As my time with The Spark Counselling continued, I learned more about their work and realised it was something I wanted to get more involved in. 

I spent my first day at The Spark in Glasgow learning about their work (which co-incidentally was tea and scones day – bonus!). In the course of volunteering, I learned that relationships, meaning and purpose and community connectedness were central to the work of The Spark. As a mum, I was impressed and encouraged by their work with young people – in schools and via youth education programmes. The Spark’s Relationship Helpline and live web chat also offered something extra by making relationship support more widely accessible. Shortly afterwards I was invited to join the Board and feeling both intrigued and impressed, decided to join.

Volunteer day 365

One year on and I have been privileged to be a part of the organisation’s journey. We have successfully rolled out the Relationship MOT – a free online tool for better understanding your relationships – and earlier this year, celebrated our 50th Anniversary at the Scottish Parliament. Amongst these great milestones, it has not been an easy year as The Spark has faced funding cuts and the recent death of our Chair, Tom McGlew.

But there is much to look forward to! The Spark’s new MSc in Relationship Counselling beginning in September 2016 offers a specialist and advanced qualification in this important area of counselling.

Speaking at the 50th Anniversary event in March this year, Peer Educator Laura told of her journey: as a young mum training with The Spark to build her confidence and skills, going on to enter higher education and work with others as a volunteer peer educator. It was a poignant reminder of why The Spark’s work matters, and of the importance of volunteering not only for those receiving help, but also for those who give it.

My experience of being a volunteer with The Spark Counselling is and continues to be a very rewarding one. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with The Spark get in touch with the team by e-mail, check out current opportunities on the website or give us a call on 0141 222 2166.


The Spark Counselling provides a range of counselling and relationship counselling services across Scotland. These include face-to-face counselling, telephone counselling and online counselling.

Select your local counselling centre from the list below. Freephone 0808 802 0050 to discuss counselling and to make an appointment. Alternatively e-mail our appointments team.

The Spark Counselling specialise in relationship counselling, marriage counselling, couples counselling and counselling for individuals. Find out more about The Spark Counselling here.

Guest Blogger, Mental Health, Relationships, Volunteer Stories