Former NHS Worker volunteers in local charity

Pre COVID I worked in HR in the NHS, and after COVID I worked within the physio department, beginning to move into and support more in the clinical care side of things. Having worked in the NHS for 5 years I took a career break so I could look after myself and my Nan who needed care. To be able to volunteer and have a cause that you are passionate about needs a lot of motivation. I felt I needed to get a routine and to get back out there. I’d been able to find some help and support for my Nan, so I felt ready to get involved and be back in a working environment where I was helping others.

I feel passionately about mental health and have a caring nature and thought volunteering would be a great way to use my transferable skills within the third sector. It was a chance to use my skills and I’d looked at other voluntary opportunities and shown an interest in some, but didn’t feel like I was able to access these. There was a lack of rapport and follow up from other services, but Melissa came back to me and I felt confident with her approach. I like things to be done in an orderly way, and the way in which she asked me what I wanted to do and my goals made me feel confident that this was the right project for me, and that I would get the support I wanted and be able to share my skills to help others. Other places there was a sense of them being desperate and just wanting volunteers without the same level of support, structure and skills development that this one offered. I wanted to understand how a third sector charity organisation works, because my passion is supporting others and I’ve never worked in the third sector. I wanted to learn more about this.

When I first met Melissa, from the way she spoke with me, the way she greeted me, it was all good. There was no rush. The environment was welcoming. She asked what support I needed which was nice and I felt I was listened to and given enough information. Melissa asked my aims right from the beginning and has offered support that will help me to achieve these. They listened to what I want to get out of it and have matched me with a role that suits the skills I have and will help me develop new knowledge and skills. Melissa and I have check-point meetings regularly and she ensures that I am supported by the organisation I am volunteering with.

I am now volunteering 2 days a week as a volunteer Business Support Officer at Sandwell African Caribbean Mental Health Foundation. Because I have been on my career break it has given me a sense of routine. I know when I am volunteering, and when I am into the centre, and it’s given me that sense of community and communication and being part of the workforce. It has given me the opportunity to really connect and make some relationships, and I am getting back to what I want to do. I’m providing admin support and working with Donna who is the manager of finance and funding, so am learning more about funding, fundraising and bidding, and am honing my skills in excel and powerpoint. The organisation I am volunteering at is a great fit as I wanted to volunteer with a charity which aligns with my core values which I felt the charity I am now volunteering for does. I wanted to understand more about what the organisation was offering in terms of better mental health outcomes for their service users and the community and I like to shadow people and learn and take it all in. The organisation are giving me opportunities to shadow others and get involved in and observe different things. Even the Chief Exec met with me and has been involved in helping shape the opportunities for me to learn in the organisation. There is open communication here and I feel like they really want me to be actively involved.

“I am only just starting this journey, but so far I am really enjoying it. It’s good to know that the organisation will benefit from my skills, and I know that once I have been here for a few months I will have learnt a lot, and have a lot more to share”

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