Celebrating our volunteers

On International Volunteer Day we hear from two of our perinatal volunteers on what it means to them to work at the Trust

Today is International Volunteers Day, which gives us an opportunity to consider the value of volunteering from both sides of the equation.

Here, Balvinder Dosanjh our Clinical Engagement, Access & Inclusion Co-ordinator who works at The Mount, talks about the intrinsic benefits that volunteers bring to our perinatal services. After that come blogs from two of those volunteers who give you their perspective on what it means to be a volunteer at Leeds and York NHS Partnership Foundation Trust.

“As a service we believe in providing the highest quality of care to all our patients and their loved ones. We recruit volunteers that we like to call “experts by experience”, people who have a lived experience of going through their own perinatal journey and coming out the other side. Being able to share that with our patients is vitally important as it provides not just a connection, but a sense of empowerment, hope and belonging that builds self-confidence and self-belief. It also, helps reduce isolation and breaks down barriers that can often make people feel they are alone or silenced by their illness.

“Our expert by experience people are extremely valued members of our team. The impact they have via the support they provide to our parents goes beyond words. Many mums accessing our service have shared how speaking with them has lifted and inspired them to move forward positively. As one of our patients said to me “having someone who looks like us and talks like us, is important to me”.

Our volunteers help raise awareness of perinatal mental health difficulties in the wider community as well as our service and we are so grateful for their dedication, support & commitment. Their support is pivotal in helping to improve maternal mental health outcomes for our diverse communities as we can’t do this alone, so we stand together as a community as one.”

                                                                                                                             Balvinder Dosanjh

Why I volunteer

“My early 20s was such a challenging period for me. I was a student, and a young black single mother; that brought plenty of difficulties. It felt like each day my life was put at a risk, so the morning of each new birthday felt like a miracle.

“Volunteering to me feels like the opposite of giving. Rather than me providing help and assistance, I feel like volunteering is a constant learning experience for me. It teaches me and opens my eye to the world out there. Most especially volunteering within this service.  As a previous service user myself, I got to receive so much love and support that it felt unnatural not to give back. I feel immense gratitude to the works done by the service. More importantly because of the nature of diversity, inclusion and the never-ending tackling of mental health at its core.

“I continue to volunteer because it gives me purpose, it gives me a sense of belonging, I am able to relate with others and vice versa. Not to sound clichéd, but it does make me more passionate about life and humanity. It forces me to be more self-aware and observant of the people in my community and environment as a whole. It allows me to be culturally and socially open to differences and help advocate against negative stereotypes and shed light to a more progressive way of thinking.

“I continue to volunteer in hope of leaving even a footprint that could be of benefit to someone out there. Additionally, it continues to take me one step closer to being hopefully an even better version of the person I am today.”

                                                                                                                               Marilyne Ebu

Providing hope

Volunteering as a peer support worker for the Perinatal Mental Health Service within LYPFT has been such a fulfilling experience for me. Having used the service twice myself during my pregnancies, volunteering has been an opportunity for me to give back to those who did so much for me. As a British-Pakistani Muslim woman, being able to break through cultural barriers by sharing my lived experience has been so important. I have loved helping to facilitate the Diverse Mums Group, where I have seen mums feeling reassured, confident, and empowered. Volunteering has enabled me to help other mums who are going through the same as what I did to know that they are not alone. It is important for the mums to have hope and to know that they will get better. Volunteering allows me to reach out and connect to mums and to let them know that they are understood and valued. I have loved seeing so many mums positively come through their journeys, and this is what makes volunteering so rewarding.”

                                                                                                                                            Sadif Najmi