Joanne Solomon has volunteered for Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind for just over a year now and today she shares her experiences of volunteering for a mental health charity, and how it opened the doors to an adult nursing degree at Teesside University.
“Mental health has always been a part of my life through family experience. I’ve known about the work Mind does for years so its been a privilege to volunteer for such a worthy charity”.
On her first day at Middlesbrough College she applied for a placement at Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, as part of her studies in social care.
Joanne had a diverse volunteering role within the organisation from admin work in the offices to one to one support meetings and supporting vulnerable people through the custodial process with Cleveland Police.
“I love coming into the organisation and volunteering, the staff are so friendly, even if they don’t know who you are, everyone is polite and will take the time to smile at you. It’s an overall welcoming atmosphere”.
“The police are thankful and make sure you are looked after. The appreciation you get from them makes it worthwhile, you know you’ve made a difference”.
Joanne feels the variety of experience she has gained through Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind has helped open the door to studying at university and feels this level of experience can be put to good use when she works in a health and social care environment.
“I love meeting different people. Mental health conditions effect everyone in many ways and it gives you insight how people with the same condition can struggle differently”.
Joanne also did Anti-Stigma training with national charity Time to Change through volunteering which covered topics like mental health awareness and campaigning. She feels on a personal level; the training is useful when talking to people about mental health and supporting someone.
Joanne begins her studies at Teesside at the end of the month and we wish her the best of luck and huge thank you for all her work and commitment.
Her piece of advice to anyone thinking of volunteering is:
“jump in. You’ll learn a lot about yourself as well as what Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind do. It’s flexible so it works around you and you can just decide what days and times you can do. They are here to support you as a person too – I would recommend volunteering to anyone”.