Who: Anyone aged 18+
Contacts: Eleri Cruchley-Jones
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The NHS Placement Scheme is a valuable opportunity for student, and community, volunteers to befriend and facilitate activities for adults with mental health related conditions in clinical and residential settings across Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Gwent. SVC are offering placements across 15 local NHS mental health wards. Placements will include experience within acute mental health, dementia and older people, rehabilitation and recovery and assessment, care and treatment.
Volunteers will provide fun, stimulating and rewarding activities for inpatients (beneficiaries) in communal rooms on NHS mental health wards. Time commitments vary from weekly and fortnightly placements. Successful applicants are expected to commit to regular volunteering and hours will be discussed and negotiated prior to beginning the placement and times and dates will be confirmed. Please note, volunteers will never volunteer alone and will always attend the sessions in pairs or a small group. Volunteers will receive training, support, travel-expenses, and invaluable experience for their CV.
We encourage our volunteers to be creative with their activities and ask volunteers to plan sessions that are suited to the individuals they are befriending on the wards. After a few sessions, volunteers will have a better idea of which activities to organise. Volunteers offer social and emotional enrichment for beneficiaries through activities, such as baking, arts and crafts, quizzes or games evenings. They also provide compassionate support and amity. Through volunteer engagement, the beneficiaries develop their social skills and gain back confidence they may have lost as a result of their mental health condition.
This will be a highly rewarding scheme, as it gives volunteers an opportunity to give something back to the community. It will provide volunteers with a chance to support vulnerable people and give volunteers first-hand experience of what it’s like to be on an NHS mental health ward. The volunteering sessions give volunteers the opportunity to build rapport with beneficiaries, and help with the progress and wellbeing of beneficiaries through activities and conversation. Volunteers are always delighted when beneficiaries remember them and look forward to their sessions. Visits from volunteers can brighten up a patient’s day and their visits can help to relieve feelings of boredom, loneliness and isolation. Companionship is instrumental in the treatment of adults with mental health conditions, as befriending improves perceptions of well-being, reduces stress and increases self-esteem and empowerment. A past volunteer detailed significant progress with a patient when trying to re-introduce knitting. Initially the beneficiary refused to partake, but as the weeks progressed so did their engagement, by the end of the scheme the beneficiary had re-learnt to knit.
The NHS Placement Scheme is of huge benefit to volunteers, in terms of gaining transferable skills and experience. Volunteers are able to gain unique clinical mental health experience, and knowledge within this sector. It is evidentially a fantastic opportunity for future employment. The skills that volunteers will achieve include interpersonal skills, teamwork, problem solving and empathy, just to name a few. It is ideal for anyone interested in the field of mental health, or someone who enjoys working closely with people. This scheme might be of particular interest to anyone pursuing a career in Mental Health, Occupational Therapy, Support Work, Social Work, Nursing, Neuroscience or Medicine. Anyone can apply but you must be a good listener and willing to initiate conversations and activities. Commitment to the scheme is essential as the volunteers are valued by both the beneficiaries and the staff team.
Please be aware that supporting adults with mental health conditions can be emotional and distressing at times; SVC are here to support you but please consider this aspect before applying. This is a challenging environment so please bear this in mind when applying for this project. Volunteers do not need to have previous experience of being on an Acute Mental Health ward, but suitable volunteers will need to be tough-skinned, have an awareness of risk and their own level of ability. Volunteers applying for this project will be invited in for an informal chat with the Project Coordinator. Successful volunteers will then be placed at a local hospital by the Project Coordinator.