volunteers week Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK

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Volunteers’ Week Spotlight: VICTORIA

“I have supported probably over 100 people now via the helpline and this makes me feel great that I can listen to and support others going through a tricky time.”

Victoria is our brilliant and talented phone line support volunteer.

1) Please tell us about yourself?
I am Victoria from south Manchester with partner Rob and twin daughters Emily and Grace. I am Re-training as a person centred counsellor at the moment and due to qualify in September 2018. I love being with my family, friends, eating out, cinema, theatre, travelling abroad.

2) How did you hear about PANDAS and what made you want to join as a volunteer?
I am not quite sure now how I heard about PANDAS but as a I was re-training as a counsellor I wanted to gain some experience volunteering for a mental health charity and PANDAS seemed the perfect choice as I had struggled with PND myself after having my twin girls so it was an area that interested me massively and I wanted to support others going through similar experiences.

3) What is your role and what do you do?
I am a telephone support worker and take calls from all kinds of people mums, dads, grandparents, friends, work colleagues etc – all people needed either support or advice about Postnatal depression (PND.) I volunteer one day per week and have been doing so for the last three years. It fits in perfectly for me as I can work from home taking the calls and usually use the time to crack on with college work while waiting for calls to come through.

4) Please tell us how you have supported someone?
I have supported probably over 100 people now via the helpline and this makes me feel great that I can listen to and support others going through a tricky time. I often find when a caller first comes on they are usually quite upset and distressed. It is clear the person is having a difficult time and making the call has been a big step for them. It is not long into the call that it is evident that having someone to listen to them, talk to them and let them know they are not on their own going through PND that the caller tends to become much calmer, more in control and more able to cope with their situation going forward. I offer a listening ear but I also signpost people to relevant organisations such as Pandas support groups, their GP for counselling or other support. I often find that people who seem to be struggling the most have had traumatic births, have little support around them such as family and friends and have had issues with depression before. We talk about how small changes can be made to their lifestyle so they can cope better with having a baby or small children, such as exercise, joining baby groups, having time out from the baby, talking to others or calling the helpline for support. I also like to encourage callers by telling them they are doing a fab job as being a mum or dad is one of the hardest jobs in the world but it does get easier!

5) And finally…
I love being a volunteer. I feel valued and I find supporting others rewarding and fulfilling. To hear on the helpline that you helping people to feel listened to and resolve an issue is great. I feel volunteering for PANDAS has enhanced my counselling skills considerably and given me a greater understanding of PND and how vital it is that it is taken seriously and people are given the right support.

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Volunteers’ Week Spotlight: CAROLINE

“One day I hope to be a kind, competent midwife somewhere in the East Midlands, and I think the work I’ve done with PANDAS and what I’ve learnt will definitely help me to be empathetic and more aware of perinatal mental health.”

Caroline from the East Midlands is our kind and passionate social media volunteer. We are proud to have Caroline as part of our team.

  1. Please tell us about yourself? 

I’m Caroline, from the East Midlands. Mum of two and married to a teacher. I’m currently a social media and PR professional but also attend college as I am retraining as a midwife and start university in September.

2) How did you hear about PANDAS and what made you want to join as a volunteer?

I decided to volunteer for PANDAS because I have supported friends through postnatal mental health issues and had seen that getting the right support makes a lot of difference. It was also helpful for me to get relevant work experience for my application for university and mental-health in pregnancy / postnatally isn’t always covered in much depth at university so it was a double-whammy, in terms of me wanting to volunteer. When I saw the role of social media volunteer advertised, it was perfect for the skills I use in my day job too so I applied straight away.

3) What is your role and what do you do? How does it work around your family and home life/other jobs/commitments?

I am a social media volunteer for Pandas, and that means that one day a week I look after our social media accounts, posting motivational and informative content to our audience. I also provide support to service users who get in touch over social media, and signpost them to our other services if they are looking for 1-2-1 support. I work 2 days a week, go to college 3 days a week and have my children at weekends and school holidays, but because of the fact you can access social media anywhere, I manage to volunteer around these commitments. I will schedule posts to go out, so I don’t have to remember to do it during a busy work day, and I will make time throughout the day to check messages and post comments and responds to questions and requests for support.

4) Please tell us how you have supported someone?

Although the main role of a social media volunteer is to signpost service users to our helpline, email support, support groups or FB closed group, on numerous occasions I have had lengthy chats with service users over Facebook messages, building rapport and supporting them when they’re feeling that they are struggling. Often, I can see that it’s helpful to them to know that someone is listening, is there and cares. I know that I can’t make someone feel better on my own, but if I help them know that they aren’t alone, that support is out there and that things will improve, that makes it all worthwhile.

Also, increasing our social media following and engagement levels is really rewarding, knowing that people like what we do, feel boosted by our posts is lovely.

5) Please tell us how donations, support and fundraising help the foundation?

Everything we do is run by volunteers, but we still need funds to be able to offer our services. I know that the volunteers on the helpline and email support do a fantastic job and it would be great if the face-to-face support group team had more resources to set up groups in locations where we aren’t currently, to make those services more accessible to more parents.

Also, I think that we could expand our range of digital services to suit how some people like to access support – kind of like an online chat function that’s private, as some people feel nervous about calling in.

I’d also like us to be able to support the people who raise funds for us more – with branded tshirts etc to show to the world that they’re supporting us 

And finally…

One day I hope to be a kind, competent midwife somewhere in the East Midlands, and I think the work I’ve done with PANDAS and what I’ve learnt will definitely help me to be empathetic and more aware of perinatal mental health.

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Volunteers’ Week Spotlight: ANNE MARIE

“That’s the thing about PANDAS, it not only supports women but then empowers them to help others going through the same”

Anne Marie is our fabulous email support and social media volunteer from Edinburgh. Anne Marie tells us about her background and what she brings to PANDAS.

1) Please tell us about yourself?

My name is Anne Marie and live in South Queensferry in Edinburgh, right next to the Forth bridges. I have three children, all girls and grown up with three beautiful grandchildren, who keep me busy. I am happily married to Kevin.

2) How did you hear about PANDAS and what made you want to join as a volunteer?

My daughter suffered with Postnatal Depression (PND ) and Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) last year after a traumatic birth. She took a long time to recover and then suffered with anxiety. She was diagnosed with PND. As her mum, I supported both her and her partner through this. Having suffered with PND with my second child, no support had been available then. After my daughter recovered, it was something I felt I could do, and had a lot to offer. I had followed PANDAS on Facebook and my daughter did the same.

3) What is your role and what do you do?

Currently I am an email volunteer on a Saturday and sometimes a Tuesday to support the group. As I work Monday to Friday it fits in easily with my work. I then took more volunteer work on as a social media agent, totally different to email, but I love engaging with our service users, and it’s so good for them to get an instant reply. I have also hosted the Twitter chat #PANDAShr on a Sunday evening. Although apprehensive about this, I really enjoy the engagement.

The balance with my job/family/career is great, its something I enjoy and I love being able to help people.

4) Please tell us how you have supported someone?

I have supported both my daughters through post natal depression, my eldest daughter suffered this 5 years ago, she didn’t realise she had it. She came up to visit me and I could see it. She went home and got support both through her GP and through PANDAS. Although she lives a long way away she knows I am always there for her, and when she had her second baby last year, I was mindful of this.

My youngest child suffered with this last year, it was hard being her mother and seeing her go through this. It was hard for me too, as my anxiety kicked in and to a point if I feel she is going through a difficult time it does now. It meant late night visits if she was anxious and her partner being young also didn’t understand what was going on.

I am so proud of her, she is thriving as a Mother and has started a new job.

5) Please tell us how donations, support and fundraising help the foundation?

We can’t help families if we didn’t have donations, they basically help us to help and reach more families.

Fundraising on a local level helps the groups to run and reach more people.

The generosity of wonderful people that help us to support families suffering with perinatal illness.

I would love to see PANDAS reach even more people and see more groups in more areas over the UK. I very often have service users on email say how when they are feeling better they would love to volunteer. That’s the thing about PANDAS, it not only supports women but then empowers them to help others going through the same.

 

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