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Volunteering put me back on the right track and allowed me to rediscover myself

Category: volunteering, CSR, Corporate Responsibility, NHS, Volunteering Day, volunteering week, Corporate Social Responsibility, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, volunteer


This week is National Volunteers Week (1-7 June 2020) – a chance to highlight all the people volunteering their time and skills across the country to support others.

Here, Dean Moriarty (pictured far left), C&I Peer Support Worker, talks about how volunteering for five years at C&I and a local mental health charity helped him back into employment and find his confidence again. 

“Volunteering empowered me to get back into a full-time job and equipped me with the knowledge and skills I need for my current role,” explains Dean.

Speaking to Dean, who started his paid role with C&I as a Peer Support Worker at the beginning of March, it is evident how much passion and dedication he has for what he does and how grateful he is for his time as a volunteer.

It was back in 2015 when Dean started volunteering at C&I. At the time, it was Dean’s mental health nurse who suggested he see what local volunteering opportunities were out there. 

Dean said: “Prior to my time as a volunteer, I had a late psychotic episode aged 38. It was a really difficult period of my life and I ended up receiving inpatient care at C&I. When I came out of hospital, I had lost a lot of confidence and my appetite for life. I felt isolated and my mood was very low. I’m so grateful for my nurse at the time who suggested volunteering. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

Dean’s application to become a C&I volunteer was accepted and at the same time, he also started advocacy work with a local mental health charity.

Dean volunteered in a variety of roles at C&I, including as restraint debrief volunteer, snack trolley volunteer and carrying out Friends and Family Tests (FFT).

“The paid Peer Support Worker role came up just before Christmas 2019 and with the help of Joanne Scott, Voluntary Services Manager, and following the application and interview process, I got the job!” said Dean.

Dean’s role initially started with the Crisis team, however, to help with the Covid-19 response efforts, Dean moved to work within the Place of Safety team based at Highgate Mental Health Centre – an alternative, calm and therapeutic location for service users who are detained by police under the Mental Health Act.  During his time as a volunteer, Dean also sat on the Place of Safety steering group, to share his ideas on how to make the building as warm and welcoming as possible for service users.

Dean’s current key responsibilities are carrying out observations and making sure service users feel as comfortable and calm as possible. Dean’s role is to answer any questions they may have about the assessment process.

Dean said: “What I enjoy most is being able to use my lived experience in a positive way and help others who are going through a similar experience to what I have been through. It’s a privilege to be able to connect with people, get an understanding of what they are going through and support them to try and not make the same mistakes I made when I was unwell.

“When someone is engaged and listening, it means they can get the best and most accurate assessment possible, which in turn, makes a massive impact on their life and allows for their recovery to start sooner.”

Dean works as part of a team of between six and eight people on any one shift, working three long 12 hour+ shifts. Dean said: “The team around me is really supportive, and I have the opportunity to suggest different approaches from my lived experience perspective to support service users who can often be in a distressed way when they arrive at the Place of Safety.”

Joanne said: “I am so proud of all Dean has achieved throughout his time as a volunteer and securing a paid role at the Trust. His work is undoubtedly benefiting the lives of our service users who we see at the Place of Safety, and he provides an invaluable perspective on how we provide care.”

Dean said: “I owe so much to volunteering. Volunteering put me back on the right track and allowed me to rediscover myself and I am so grateful for this.”

If Dean’s story has interested you in volunteering, take a look at the opportunities at C&I here: https://www.candi.nhs.uk/get-involved/volunteering

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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