Volunteering doesn’t just bring benefits to your service and our service users, it’s also a great experience for the volunteers themselves. Here some of our valued volunteers tell us how they found spending time with us:
I wanted to volunteer as I have a background in psychology and recently completed a master’s degree in this field. It gave me an interest in gaining experience within healthcare, specifically around mental health.
I was very interested in the services the NHS offered for mental health issues within the community, as I was unaware of many of these before I worked with deprived children and their families at a children’s centre. I wanted to apply my psychology background to these services, so volunteered within CAMHS.
My role included interacting with service users through groups such as parenting groups and service user participation meetings. I worked alongside an ADHD support worker which meant I learned about the services offered for young people and their families.
I enjoyed working in a team alongside psychologists and health care support workers as well as many others. It was rewarding to be able to help service users just by talking to them and listening to their stories.
Volunteering has helped me understand the services available to support mental health issues better, and given me an insight into various routes for help. I also gained experience in providing a supportive role for service users and understanding how to guide individuals towards recovery which is often a multifaceted approach.
Being a volunteer allowed me to discover that I would like to work for the NHS and provide support for people with mental health issues.
I have been interested in mental health since the age of 16 where I began studying Psychology at A Level. I went on to graduate with a 2.1 in BSc Psychology from Newcastle University, and throughout my degree I gained knowledge about various mental health conditions, including their cause, symptoms and treatments. This gave me an interest in trying to get as much experience as possible in working with people with these various mental health conditions, not only as a way to learn more and have first hand experience, but as a way to help and provide support for these people in any way that I can.
When working at the Horizon Centre at Fieldhead I worked with individuals with learning disabilities in an art project. The aim of the art project was to brighten up the ward with the service users’ own art work, to make the ward a more homely living space. In the entrance to the ward, me and another volunteer painted a large tree with branches spreading across the wall and the volunteers helped paint leaves which were stuck on to the branches. These leaves could then be used by the service users to write messages on about their time on the ward.
Volunteering allows me to gain experience in working with individuals with various mental health conditions and I really enjoy being able to provide support to individuals in mental health services. For example, providing some kind of activity or entertainment to break up their day and give them something to engage with, particularly in inpatient services. I also find it really worthwhile when service users ask when you are next visiting or seem interested in the activity you are providing or even just chatting with you.
In the future I would like to become a clinical psychologist. Therefore, volunteering has really helped me gain the experience that is necessary for this job, such as working with individuals with various mental health conditions of different severity on a daily basis. As well as this, it has also helped me to decide that being a clinical psychologist is something that I definitely want to do in the future.
My interest in having a career in mental health started when I was 12 years old and had successful cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for my obsessive compulsive disorder. It led me to do a psychology and counselling degree at Huddersfield University, after which I worked in a residential care home for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities. I loved this job, particularly engaging with the service users.
I wanted to volunteer with the Trust to help people with mental health issues, but also to get a broader understanding of the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) team as I had a particular interest in their work. My aim was to get a job as a psychological wellbeing practitioner (PWP) – someone who assesses and supports people with common mental health conditions – and I wanted to gain relevant experience which would help me in securing a role.
I volunteered as a psychological wellbeing practitioner assistant, so I did a lot of shadowing of the PWPs, along with some essential admin tasks. I attended team meetings, and met with the leads of the different teams. I also did quite a lot of service promotion, and found out about the other mental health services in Huddersfield and what they offer.
I enjoyed meeting new people and working as part of the team. However, the most rewarding part was working with the clients and seeing them improve. For example, I shadowed a wellbeing group, and it was really lovely to see people come out of their shell, and to hear them share how our interventions were making a difference in their lives.
Whilst I was volunteering with the Trust, I was offered an interview for a PWP role. Volunteering really helped me, because I gained insight into role of a PWP, and got support and helpful materials from current PWPs to help with my interview. I have since secured a job as a PWP, and I believe the fact that I was a volunteer first had a large part to play in that.
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