Bernard Fernandez shares a light moment with a staff from Volunteer West
Bernard Fernandez is one of the newest members of the Volunteer West board having just joined in January this year and taking on the role of Secretary. Upon retiring following a long career in banking, Bernard returned to university to retrain as a counsellor with hopes to use his new skill to help people in the community. Here he shares his thoughts and experiences in volunteering, and his top tips to stay healthy and fit as we kick off International Men’s Health Week.
Have you got a memorable experience volunteering? Tell us about it
I’ve had many memorable experiences as a volunteer. One that stands out relates to a client I had been counselling for several months with seemingly little progress. Then one day he turned up at a session and was able to confidently articulate where he really was in his struggles and how he was now ready to make some meaningful changes in his life. That sudden light globe moment was special to us both as we realised at that point that our collaboration and trust over the months did make a difference. This certainly reinforced my belief that sometimes it can take longer than we expect before our efforts reach fruition
What drew you to volunteer with Volunteer West as a board member?
I felt I had the experience and passion to contribute to the board and make a difference to how Volunteer West could improve its profile and effectiveness for the benefit of the various causes, organisations and individuals it supports.
Why is volunteering important to you?
It has always been important to me to be engaged and connected to the community I live in, in a meaningful way. Volunteering allows me that opportunity and also gives me great satisfaction to know that what I do can make the lives of others better.
With this week being International Men’s Health Week, what are your top tips for men to stay healthy and fit?
These are my top tips:
- Exercise regularly, eat sensibly and prioritise sufficient sleep to maintain a healthy mind. When problems arise, seeking medical treatment or counselling early is very important
- To prevent loneliness and isolation, develop relationships through a reliable network of family and friends; to share lived experiences and concerns and receive support
- Place high emphasis on having fun regularly by cultivating enjoyable interests and indulging in hobbies such as sports.
- Practice Mindfulness and relaxation exercises such as yoga or tai chi to manage stress in a positive way. For some, religion and spirituality have a role to play too.
- Develop gratitude and practice charity to improve wellbeing and connectedness with those around you.