Volunteers Week, 1 to 7 June, marks the annual celebration of the contribution millions of people across the country make through volunteering.
Although Covid-19 means we are not celebrating in the way we usually would at the Trust, the recognition and appreciation of our volunteers’ dedication and energy feels perhaps more important than ever.
Here Sarah Rodway-Swanson in the Volunteering Services team explains how our volunteers have been making a difference:
"Our usual face-to-face volunteering was suspended in mid-March. We were able to very quickly set-up a Telephone Befriending service to continue providing support to service users. Many of our volunteers – who usually volunteer in a whole range of roles across the Trust’s hospitals and in the community – have taken on this temporary new role with the same enthusiasm and compassion they are known for.
"Our volunteers have been building brilliant relationships with service users over the phone. Every year our volunteers enhance our services by offering unique support to service users, and we’ve been so proud of the flexibility our volunteers have shown in responding to the recent challenges. The Maudsley Charity spoke to one of our volunteers about their experience as a Telephone Befriender – read the article here.
"Volunteers with our CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) Mentoring project have utilised technology to continue offering support to service users they had existing relationships with. Mentors and mentees have texted, spoken on the phone, shared recipes and games, followed home workout videos and watched documentaries ‘together’ from their separate homes, and much more."
Margherita, one of our CAMHS mentors, said of her relationship with a CAMHS user: “We are able to support each other during these difficult times, and our relationship has grown stronger because of this."
In addition to Telephone Befriending, volunteers have generously offered their time to other tasks during the last few months. Driving volunteers have helped the Trust deliver mobile phones across community services; deliver and return swab test kits from staff at home; and distributing donations received by the Trust.
A small group of volunteers also helped package and mailout sunflower lanyards to service users. Young volunteers have used their time remotely to create self-care and activity resources, and are contributing to building a community resource database. Through the Covid-19 period over 150 volunteers have given their time to the Trust in one way or another – often supporting multiple service users.
As Isobel Mdudu, Volunteer Services manager, said “Whatever I have asked for help with, you [the volunteers] have kept giving and giving – thank you!”. Volunteers make an invaluable contribution to the Trust not just this Volunteers Week, or during this period, but every week and every year.