Volunteers' Week Spotlight: CAROLINE - PANDAS Foundation UK

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“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.

AUTHOR

Pandas

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