I spent six months in hospital. At the same time there was another patient in the ward that had cataracts and couldn’t see. I spent time supporting him to get around. As a result of this, some of the nursing and occupational therapy staff suggested that I volunteer for mental health services. I had an interview with the Befriending and Volunteer Services Manager and have been here ever since.
I started off volunteering with the trolley service and was supported by the Befriending Services staff until I felt confident enough to take the trolley around myself. It’s good, because everybody gets to know you after a spell and the staffs are brilliant.The patients always seem pleased to see you and happy with the service.
My son tells me that volunteering is the best thing that I have ever done. It gives you an interest and you meet so many people that sometimes someone will say hello to you in the street and it takes you a minute to figure out where you know them from.
I would advise anyone thinking about volunteering in mental health services not to be wary – there are a lot of misconceptions about people with mental health problems. The people who are in-patients in psychiatric facilities are just the same as anyone else.