Unpaid workers at Bradford District Care NHS Trust are being recognised ahead of Volunteers Week.
The week happens every year to recognise the outstanding contribution volunteers make to society, selflessly giving up their time to help others.
Volunteers can take on a variety of roles, working directly with services or with the Trust’s charity, Better Lives. They are at the heart of the Well Together service, which provides free activities across Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven that are aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of local people.
The activities are entirely run by volunteers like Helen Jordan, who gives up time twice a week to run both a crochet and knitting group as well as a mindfulness group. With 20 years of experience practising mindfulness behind her, she has helped others to take control over their health problems and improve their mental wellbeing.
Ms Jordan had to adapt during the pandemic when she was no longer able to deliver these sessions in person and was committed to delivering a virtual mindfulness course instead. This became a great success, supporting both staff and patients at the Trust.
Volunteers also directly support some of the Trust’s mental health services. Aneekah Ashfaq is about to start as a life skills volunteer in one of the mental health wards. She first started volunteering with BDCFT in 2017 in the Four Seasons Café at Lynfield Mount Hospital, where mental health services are delivered.
Ms Ashfaq shared more about why she volunteers and how it has inspired her: “All the volunteering has got me to where I am today – at college and about to go to university, with two offers to study Psychology.
“Volunteering has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve learnt so many skills and gained confidence doing so, subsequently improving my own mental health.
“It taught me that, regardless of someone’s mental health, you can still make an impact. I am now a facilitator and support those struggling with the same difficulties as myself. This would not have been possible without the volunteering experience I have had with the Trust.”
The number of people volunteering at the Trust is almost back to its pre-pandemic level with 176 locals now signed up.
Paul Hogg, director of corporate affairs and lead director of volunteering, said: “Our volunteers contribute so much to their local communities and local NHS. We are so grateful for everything they do.
“Our volunteering opportunities provide local people with the chance to ‘give back’ to the NHS, support recovery and discharge, and grow our future workforce.
“It is an approach that is accessible, with opportunities to involve a diverse range of local people. As a Trust, we look forward to both developing our existing volunteers and welcoming new ones to support the vital work we do.
“Some of our volunteers go on to explore careers in healthcare through our volunteer to career programme and we also work with NHS cadets to support young people with volunteering roles across the Trust. I’m delighted to use this Volunteers Week to say thank you to each and every one of them.”