Volunteers carry out a wide range of roles across the Trust and for a number of reasons. Some of them have kindly shared their stories with us.

 

 

Name:

Heather Carabine

How long have you volunteered?

I've been volunteering within the Trust since 2016.

I started volunteering with the psychology department as a research volunteer working with Sarah-Dexter Smith, consultant applied psychologist, on the video component of the Guidelines for Psychological Best Practice in Inpatient Services for older people.

In 2017 I started volunteering on the mental health services for older people (MHSOP) ward at Roseberry Park, Middlesbrough.

Since then I have been successful in securing a Psychology Assistant Role within the Trust and am keen to share my experiences of volunteering.

Why do you enjoy volunteering?

I feel that this has been a great opportunity to learn about the Trust and how its cares for patients. It has been a real privilege to work so closely with patients and feel that you are making a difference to the care they receive. I have been made to feel part of the multidisciplinary team and feel very valued on the ward.

If you could recommend volunteering to others what would you say to them?

Volunteering can really improve your chances of achieving your career goals; it gives you real experiences and an understanding of how services work. If you want to volunteer you need to treat the role seriously and that means showing commitment to the role and valuing the opportunities that you get. Never underestimate how much you learn from spending time with patients, whether that is playing cards, watching TV, chatting or running a group. The skills you develop by engaging with patients are invaluable. I would recommend TEWV as a place for others to volunteer.

 

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Name:

Aidan Robertson

Where do you volunteer?

In the occupation therapy garden at West Park Hospital, Darlington

Why do you enjoy volunteering?

I enjoy volunteering because I love gardening. I have worked in Horticulture and I studied Horticulture at college and gained a National Certificate and a Diploma. I have a keen interest in watching plants grow and looking after them. I also like meeting people and talking to people with mental health problems, as from experience, I know that by having hope recovery is possible. 

What do you do in your volunteer role?

I volunteer with Pam and Roy who are wonderful and keen gardeners. We meet the patients, sow seeds, water the plants, pot plants, do weeding and have nice cups of coffee and biscuits!

How long have you volunteered?

I used to volunteer in the garden back in 2013 and I decided to come back to the garden in April 2017. I volunteer two mornings a week.

 

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Name:
Vanessa Wildon

Where do you volunteer? 
Roseberry Park Hospital Activity Street.

What do you do in your volunteering role?
Various tasks, including helping with setting up putting equipment away for the groups, such as gardening and self care and ceramics.

How many hours or days a week do you volunteer?
Mondays and Friday's.

Why did you choose to volunteer?
My Tewv Governor role required less hours so I wanted to use the hours to help benefit service users. It enables me to use skills and knowledge I have but learn more to benefit the service and enhance hopefully what we provide.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
It's the overall experience that I enjoy, there is not one aspect that alone makes it enjoyable. Working with the team members and meeting and chatting to a wide variety of people is great. 
 
If you could recommend volunteering to others what would you say to them?
There is a wide range of opportunities for volunteering in the Trust. It's a good way to build confidence and make friends. It also gives you a feel good factor when you make difference. If you live on your own, recently retired or new to the area it's an ideal chance to use your skills to broaden your social circle and combat loneliness whilst helping others. 

 

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Name:

Mary Grimes

 

Where do you volunteer?:

I volunteer on Birch Ward, West Park Hosppital, Darlington

 

How long have you volunteered with TEWV?:

I have been volunteering on Birch ward since October 2015 and I absolutely LOVE it.

 

What do you do in your volunteering role?:

I began by taking in owls that I had knitted and hoping to inspire the patients to make them and had some success.  I followed this by introducing jewellery making and we made some Goddess bracelets which were, and continue to be a great success. We also make the 'Tree of life' which is also popular. The patients use their own creativity and develop what I introduced, so I just love to go in and see what we will do this week.

Often patients develop their own projects and I can assist by taking in things that they need e.g. one patient was knitting forget-me-nots to support Dementia awareness and I sent in small safety pins for her.  Another was knitting for babies and I got some buttons.

Typically I go onto the ward on a Tuesday with materials and some idea of what we might do and then see what unfolds.  Having suffered with anorexia I know all about the short attention span and difficulty in focussing on things so I have materials there and stay all day and patients can come in and out and do a project in their own time - no pressure.  

 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering and if you could recommend volunteering to others what would you say to them?:

I think that it can be difficult for some volunteers to see how they can contribute to the life of the ward, it was for me, but the difference you can make by simply being there is huge.

The patients may not always be well and are in the process of recovery. Therefore they don't always feel like being creative or sociable.  I am grateful to be trusted by the ward staff to just 'do my own thing' and see what does and doesn't work and be guided by the patients. I might have a busy day where we are active with projects all the time, but sometimes I simply go and sit and knit and listen to someone.  

I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to volunteer on the ward in this way and people are so generous in their praise and so grateful.  I do feel I am a valued member of staff and I am excited to go each time.  I am full of admiration for the staff on the ward and for the patients.  I know how tough it is to live with an eating disorder and I like to see the patients engage with their recovery and move forward at their own pace.

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Name: 

Anthony Heslop

 

Where do you volunteer (team / department / ward name and location)

I volunteer on Cedar ward, the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at West Park Hospital in Darlington.

 

How long have you volunteered?

I’ve volunteered with TEWV in various roles for about three years, though I’ve only volunteered on the ward for half that time.

 

What do you do in your volunteering role?

I recall the role description being to “provide meaningful and distracting activity” for the patients.  We often play games or do craft activities but I’ve also found being there to chat or just listen is as important.  Having somebody give us their undivided attention for a while can be such a gift and is clearly appreciated by people on the ward. 

 

How many hours / days a week do you volunteer?

I volunteer on Sunday afternoons.  I work weekdays and know weekends are quiet times on the ward, people don’t have access to some of the off-ward facilities and activities available on weekdays so this is a good fit for me and the ward.

 

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I think there are as many reasons to volunteer as there are volunteers!  For me, I felt I had an appreciation of what people with mental health challenges go through after needing the support of services myself.  I wanted to use my experience of illness and recovery to support others, to help them believe there is light at the end of the tunnel and give them that hope.   

 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

You get to meet some incredible people dealing with some incredible challenges, both patience and staff!  Connecting with people and being part of their journey to wellbeing is a privilege.  Getting the electric guitars out, turning up the amps and thrashing on the ward is great fun too!  

 

If you could recommend volunteering to others what would you say to them?

There are few things in life as fulfilling as supporting other and seeing the difference you can make.  I think any volunteer working with people in any setting will tell you that.  Volunteering on the ward is often huge fun, moving or inspiring and is always rewarding.  Volunteering Services and the ward staff have been great at supporting me as a volunteer so if you feel you have something to offer please don’t have any worries about finding out for yourself.

 

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Geoff, volunteer driver, West Park Hospital, Darlington

"Volunteer driving for the Trust is a real pleasure for someone like me who enjoys driving and has recently settled into pretty much full retirement.. I have found everyone I've come into contact with so courteous and friendly and  I encourage anyone who has even just a few hours a week to spare, and would like to put something back into the community, to offer themselves as a volunteer to the Trust."

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