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Volunteers Week, 1-7 June 2021

26 May 21

Volunteers have played a key part in supporting our service users, carers and staff and we want to thank them for their continued support during a very challenging year.

Safety is the main priority for everyone, but hopefully we can soon invite our volunteers back into the Trust in the various volunteer roles:

  • Meet and greeters in the lobby areas, directing people to amenities, encouraging the use of feedback and generally being a person service users and carers can talk to whilst they wait for appointments
  • Ward visitors, socialising with the inpatients
  • Music ward visitors, playing instruments, singing
  • Activities, usually helping the Occupational Therapist with wellbeing activities, craft, and fitness
  • Gardening, general gardening or help the Occupational Therapist with service users in the garden spaces
  • PAT dogs, pet therapy
  • Specialist support groups which can be community based
  • Admin support
  • Check and Chat - telephoning service user or carers from to see how they are and have a friendly chat to help alleviate loneliness.

Although we haven’t been able to have volunteers on our sites, this has not stopped them either supporting us in remote roles or using their volunteer experience to support other organisations and people in need.

Volunteering is beneficial not only to the organisation and the people they support, but it also has a positive impact on the volunteers themselves. Below are some quotes from a few of our volunteers:

“I've really enjoyed the volunteer check and chat calls and I am quite happy to continue.  This has been a tricky year for me as well, but I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by good friends and family. So, it's been good to put myself to one side and hopefully give a bit of support to someone else.”

“I have missed the ward live music sessions, but I enjoy doing the 'check and chat' telephone calls. The pandemic makes most of us feel powerless and shut off.  I have been - and continue to be - grateful that I can do something which might be of benefit to other people.  For me making regular phone calls takes very little effort and if that is of some value to service users and their families, I feel it is very worthwhile.”

“I am very appreciative of your support and was also very pleased that I got a prompt and reassuring response from a mental health professional when I thought a service user needed extra help.”

Over the past year I have been volunteering teaching a young unemployed gentleman basic guitar skills for free. He recently told me that he had a job interview and I urged him to mention that he hadn't been wasting his time over lockdown because he was learning guitar. And then... he got the job!”

“Over the lockdown period I have not been able to be a ward visitor volunteer. I have really missed the face to face contact with both service users and staff on the ward. Having worked in health and social care and part of a multi-disciplinary team for most of my career it has been a major change in not having that interaction, role structure and routine with other people be it on a volunteer basis, which I have always valued in the hope of providing a listening ear to service users and staff for many years.  

I have been involved in volunteering for the St Albans friendship scheme an offshoot of Mencap and over the past year been offering weekly telephone support to service users. I have also helped as a volunteer with Communities 1st in St Albans again offering support and maintaining regular contact over the telephone to people who had become socially isolated due to the pandemic I shall keep in contact and hope to recommence my volunteering role at some point in the future.”

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