The contribution volunteers make at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was praised today (Fri) as Volunteers' Week (1-7 June) got underway.
The praise came from Sarah Briggs, who earlier this year took up the role of Voluntary Services Co-ordinator at NSFT.
"Our volunteers bring their unique skills and perspectives to enhance the services that our staff provide across Norfolk and Suffolk," she said.
"They were once described to me as the 'sprinkles on top of the ice cream' – everyone loves ice cream but sprinkles, like our volunteers, make it even better!
"We have a diverse range of volunteers who include half-a-dozen Pets As Therapy volunteers who take their dogs into Wayland Prison and our Woodlands mental health unit in Ipswich, and a woman who gives hand massages on one of the wards at Hellesdon Hospital.
"We have chaplaincy volunteers working in Norfolk and Suffolk and a retired occupational therapist who contributes by giving Indian head massages."
Other volunteers support community mental health and learning disability teams and one helps with a photography group at Northgate Hospital, Great Yarmouth.
Of the 65 volunteers, 26 are peer tutors who run courses and workshps at the Trust's Recovery College, which has bases across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Sarah said that the Trust's volunteers ranged in age from University of East Anglia students to one chaplaincy volunteer who is over 90.
She said there were many reasons why people put themselves forward as volunteers, with some being inspired because of experiences they have had of NSFT, either as a service user or because they have had loved ones cared for by the Trust.
Sarah will take part in a recruitment day for new staff that NSFT is holding at Ipswich Corn Exchange on Thursday, 7 June between 11am and 7pm. Anyone who is interested in volunteering at NSFT is invited to go along.
On Tuesday, 5 June she will meet some of the Trust's volunteers at the Julian Hospital, Norwich, for tea, coffee and cake and to thank them for their contribution.
Volunteers need to be aged at least 16 and able to commit to at least one morning or afternoon a week, although there are also limited opportunities to work at weekends and during the evening.
Now that she has settled into her new post, one of Sarah's priorities will be to recruit additional volunteers in both Norfolk and Suffolk.
She has worked for the Trust in Norfolk for the past 13 years, most recently spending 4½ years as Volunteers Co-ordinator for the Norfolk Recovery Partnership.
Volunteers' Week was established in 1984 by Volunteering England, which merged with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in 2013. During the week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK.
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