06 Jun 2011

West London Mental Health NHS Trust recruits up to 40 volunteers each year and is celebrating their involvement this Volunteers Week. Volunteers offer a few hours, a day a week to support one of the Trust’s many services, and form a vital link between our local communities, service users, carers and the Trust.

Pat McGrath, Involvement & Volunteer Manager, says: “We try to ensure that our volunteers enjoy an active and relevant role in an area that complements their skills. For instance, we currently have volunteers who are helping our art therapists, occupational therapists, and ward-based activity coordinators.”

Faisal has been volunteering one day a week in the education department at the Wells Unit in Ealing, a forensic unit for under 18 year old boys, for the past 3 months and is set to continue for another 6 months.

He says: “I have seen the effects of mental illness up close in my family and know that the stigma around mental illness is still rife within society. I wanted to help in some small way. I am currently studying a science degree and wanted to get a better understanding by not only learning about it, but by getting a hands-on perspective.

“I help out the occupational therapists wherever I can and love the fact that no two days are the same. Last week, I was helping to facilitate a discussion about human rights and assisting patients in an art class make a papier mache collage that depicted their ambitions for the future.”

Pat adds: “People should keep in mind that volunteering can be quite challenging but we give our volunteers as much support as we can. Our volunteers complete a three day induction programme, before they are placed. Each volunteer has a mentor who offers one-to-one support, as well as the continued support of the Trust Volunteer’s Service staff.”

“The next volunteer intake will commence induction in August and we will be setting up placements for September.”

Faisal says: “You have to be very keen, optimistic and open minded. You need to get involved in everything so you can build relationships with the patients. In the end, you will get just as much out of the experience as the people you are helping.

“For me, it has been a huge learning experience and I’ve felt like a valued team member. I am glad I’ve been able to be involved.”

– ENDS –

About the Wells Unit:

The Wells Unit is a ten bed male inpatient unit, which is part of the secure forensic mental health service for young people. We provide a highly specialised, multi-disciplinary assessment and treatment service for young males aged between 12 and 18 years with severe mental illness who are a danger to themselves or others, and who may have committed criminal offences. There is no catchment area as the beds are part of a national service.

For questions, interviews and photographs contact:

Charlene Stephenson
Communications Manager
Tel: 020 8483 2276
Email: charlene.stephenson@wlmht.nhs.uk