VOLUNTEERS WEEK 2018
Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. We’ve spoken to Neena, our Mental Health Volunteer about why she donates her time at Your Place.
What made you want to volunteer at Your Place?
I have always wanted to do some work to support people experiencing homelessness, but have not had the opportunity. When I saw the advert for Your Place’s volunteer position supporting the mental health and wellbeing programme, I got in touch as soon as I could and was delighted to be invited to come in and meet the team. I am currently studying Forensic Psychology at Goldsmiths University, and we have discussed the links between mental health and homelessness during my course, so I knew it a worthwhile position for me to take up.
What will you take away from your volunteering experience?
I’ve learnt so much at Your Place, and all so quickly. Right now, I’m helping the Mental Health Lead to measure the wellbeing of resident’s over a period of time. This has helped me see how important it is to measure impact so you know what is effective for those using your service. I’ve also learnt so much about homelessness. Before I started volunteering, I was interested in working with homeless people but didn’t understand the extent of the problems they can face and how difficult it can really be to navigate and access services and carry out typical everyday tasks. Now I have helped people navigate the paperwork and forms they need to access benefits and such like, I really appreciate why support, like that provided at Your Place, is so essential.
Do you have a best moment?
I was really lucky to prepare and run some mindfulness sessions for Your Place residents recently. These meditation sessions share methods for how to cope with stress and difficult situations. The residents were really engaged, gave some great feedback and returned for further sessions, which assured me that they had felt that they had benefited from the sessions.
Why do you think mental health provisions are so important in homelessness?
Statistics show that mental health issues are particularly common in homeless populations, and yet homeless people often lack support systems and engagement with local NHS services, so issues can go untreated and therefore escalate. By helping residents with their mental health while they are in supporting housing, we can help to break down any stigmas attached to talking about mental health and struggles, and it encourages them to seek help when they need it.
Do you have a message for anyone else thinking about volunteering?
Yes! It’s a great opportunity to help other people and learn things for yourself first hand. It’s been really eye opening for me to get an insight into other people’s lives. It’s changed my views and knowledge of homelessness dramatically and has certainly helped inform my future career goals.