Francesca, former volunteer, now Clinical Manager (Inpatient Services)

FrancescaWhat made you consider volunteering with CNTW?
Mental health has always been important to me and a topic I am very much interested in. During studying psychology at university, I decided to look for volunteering opportunities within mental health to broaden my knowledge, support others and further my professional skills. I had volunteered whilst in sixth form and really enjoyed this experience. I chose CNTW due to the fantastic feedback I had from peers and from reading about the volunteer project online. I was aware of CNTW as a Trust and its dominance within mental health care. As soon as I enquired, I was asked to come to St Nicholas Hospital for a meeting to meet the team and discuss my skills and where may be most suitable to volunteer. The team were wonderful; so welcoming and enthusiastic about their brilliant service and made me feel at ease.

How easy was it to find out about volunteering and how did you find the process, training and support?
The process was simple, I was recommended to look into the CNTW Trust. I googled the volunteer page, sent an email and then was invited along for an informal meeting. I received an induction to the Trust and I was supported throughout by the Voluntary Service; they made me feel very valued and part of the Trust. Once a placement was found I was provided with a mentor and worked alongside this person and she further inspired me to work for the Trust. My expenses were paid for travel to and from the hospital.

Did you volunteer with the forethought of working for the Trust?
Originally, I was unsure what I wished to do in relation to my career. After university I moved back to southern England, however soon came back after applying to do a masters in nursing at Northumbria. I knew then that I would be remaining in the north and that I would only wish to work for one Trust – CNTW. I completed my course and applied for a nursing position at St George’s Park and I have just been promoted to Ward Manager of the acute female inpatient ward.

Is there any particular volunteer memories you would like to share?
Volunteering within the STARR project at Walkergate Park was one of the best opportunities I have ever had. Having the privilege to support patients through recovery; supporting people to learn to walk, talk, engage again was such a powerful experience. The team was fantastic and my mentor was exceptional. They really promoted the Trust values and inspired me to follow a career within mental health. We supported an individual who had a keen liking for Mario kart and pool; that was my Thursday afternoon sorted; to see this person come through such adversity of his injuries and progress to going home to his family was incredible.

Would you recommend volunteering within CNTW to any other potential future employees?
I would highly recommend volunteering within CNTW; I believe that CNTW provides one of the best, most supported volunteering opportunities that can be accessed within mental health care. My Volunteering opportunity opened my world to a Trust that I am proud to be working in today and ignited the path to my nursing career.