Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is steadily increasing its volunteers’ base since launching an appeal to local people in 2016.
Since July, the number of volunteers involved with NSFT to improve services for patients and staff has almost doubled, and with Volunteer’s Week beginning tomorrow (1 June), there are now almost 100 active volunteers.
Volunteers’ Week, which this year runs from 1 to 7 June, celebrates the contribution made by millions of people across the UK who donate their time to help others. With a series of national and local events it’s not only about showing appreciation for existing volunteers but also raising awareness of volunteering opportunities with organisations such as NSFT.
Over the past few months the Trust has mainly recruited in these roles: • Spiritual Support – helping the Trust’s chaplaincy team facilitate reflective worship, chatting with service users about spirituality and even running Tai-Chi workshops for young people• Sports Motivators – working with Assistant Practitioners to help service users participate in sports and get the best out of their gym sessions• Dementia Activity Group - assisting with the CST groups for people with dementia, by welcoming people to sessions and supporting participants throughout the activities• Carers Helpdesk – working at Thurne Ward, Hellesdon Hospital, to support friends and family who are visiting their relatives
Kim Boggan, Talent for Care Lead, said she has been really encouraged by the interest in volunteering with the mental health trust shown by the public. “Volunteers represent a great asset for the Trust and a real support to NSFT's 4,000 staff to deliver even better services.
“We have attracted volunteers from all walks of life. And they are showing great passion and commitment, which is incredibly rewarding for everyone involved.
“Many of our volunteers have personal experience of living with mental health issues, and through volunteering they provide valuable inspiration and insight to service users and staff alike.
“At the moment we are looking for volunteers with ‘green thumbs’ to help with the maintenance and improvement of our gardens in Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich. This is a great opportunity to get involved and make the Trust facilities even nicer for service users and staff,” said Kim.
Yagmur Ozsoy, 20, has taken up a volunteering role with NSFT and currently helps as a Dementia Activity Group Assistant, at the Julian Hospital, in Norwich. “I have never volunteered for anything before and so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to help out my local community,” said Yagmur who studies psychology at the University of East Anglia.
“I am sure this experience with patients will be really helpful when choosing a future career. I still don’t know exactly what I’d like to do, but I am sure I would love to work within mental health.
“I’m very much enjoying socialising with the patients at the Julian Hospital. Thanks to this experience, I understand that people should not be judged because of their illness. Talking to people is very important, it makes them feel involved and listened to,” added Yagmur.
Denise Jones, 54, volunteers as a ‘Meeter and Greeter’ at Kirkley Cliff, in Lowestoft. She started volunteering with NSFT because she felt the need to put her spare time to good use.
“Volunteering is boosting my confidence and is also giving me some worthwhile work experience.
“It is a pleasure meeting different people and I enjoy the fact that I contribute to a service that will benefit others,” said Denise.
People interested in volunteering with the Trust can check the current posts advertised on our Trust’s website.
Volunteers’ roles include companionship at mealtimes, becoming a dementia buddy, playing games with patients and encouraging service users to complete surveys to help drive through improvements.
For more information about volunteering with the Trust, visit www.nsft.nhs.uk/volunteer or email the team on firstname.lastname@example.org