In praise of volunteers

Just Regional
Jun 2, 2020 3 mins read

This week, the NHS Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust is marking Volunteers Week, an annual celebration of the millions of people who contribute their time to help others.

Before lockdown, the trust, which deals with mental health issues and has its headquarters in Hellesdon, was regularly welcoming volunteers and looking for new faces to bring fresh ideas and unique perspective to its day-to-day operations.

Volunteer services manager Lesley Drew and her team have seen how volunteers can bring huge benefits to the service, enhancing the work of the staff and making experiences better for service users and carers.

“It’s about people being able to utilise their skills, experiences and interests for some real good,” she said. “Volunteers are worth their weight in gold. They do not replace the work of the staff but rather enhance what the trust offers.

“Before lockdown, we had volunteers carrying out a diverse range of tasks throughout the trust, in both clinical and non-clinical settings.”

A former law student is hoping to repay Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) for the “fantastic” care he received by volunteering on the wards while training to become a mental health nurse.

Olly Anstey, who lives in Norwich, is set to begin his training at the University of East Anglia in September. But before that, the 29-year-old is planning to volunteer with the trust to help thank the staff who helped him in the past.

Olly Anstey, who is repaying the help he received by volunteering with the NSFT.

“I have lived experience of NSFT, and I really want to use that to help others,” said Olly. “My experience has been absolutely fantastic and the help the Trust has given me has been invaluable. I am passionate about the NHS and that is why I want to be part of it.”

Olly began his studies in London but was forced to give up his law course after becoming ill, then breaking his ankle.

Rather than having to retake the year to catch up, he decided to put his time to good use volunteering for the Norfolk Community Law Service instead, where he regularly advises people with mental health issues on benefits and welfare rights.

It was this work which led Olly to the conclusion that he wanted to become a mental health nurse. He is now looking forward to starting his course in September but hopes to start volunteering on the wards before that, if covid-19 restrictions allow.

“I love people,” added Olly, who will complete placements at Hellesdon Hospital and Northgate Hospital, in Great Yarmouth, as part of his course. “I want to offer help and hope to people who have lost their way and I want to learn how to do that within the framework of mental health nursing.

“Mental health is still not quite understood. I would encourage anyone who has the time to volunteer and would also urge anyone who is suffering with mental health issues to reach out and seek help, particularly during this pandemic.”

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