A programme which supports Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people living with mental illness is appealing for new BME volunteers.
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation has a BME volunteering programme called Msaada, Swahili for ‘giving back’ and is looking for volunteers to support BME patients and services users in number of ways, from being befrienders, ward visitors to admin supporters.
BME Volunteer Coordinator, Joseph Kiguwa, said: “For almost eight years Msaada has attracted a diverse range of BME people who give up their valuable spare time to support BME people living with mental illness.
“Sadly because of a host of reasons including the stigma within some sections of the BME communities towards mental illness many BME people living with mental ill health often experience isolation and loneliness.”
Msaada is looking for BME people, over the age of 18, who can commit to volunteering for a minimum of three hours per week and for a minimum of nine months.
In return, Msaada offers training and on-going support. Many volunteers use their experiences of volunteering to change and further their careers.
‘It is heart-warming’
Antani, who lives in Southwark, wanted to volunteer with the Trust to get real world experience in mental health after studying psychology.
She said: “Being from a Caribbean background myself, I was drawn to work with Msaada because they are one of the few services that are aware of cultural differences when providing support for mental illness in BME communities.
“It is heart-warming to see service users feeling comfortable relating to their peers and staff members alike. I found that volunteering with the Trust helped to de-stigmatise my own perceptions of mental illness.
“When I was studying at university, it gave me the impression that people with mental health issues are markedly different from everyone else in terms of dysfunctional behaviour.
“However, I found that the service users I interact with can range in displays of functional behaviour. They are a joy to work with and an educating experience within themselves.
“I have grown in confidence whilst volunteering with the Trust and have now joined as a member. I intend to be an active member; I feel I can use my experience as a volunteer to advocate for better services.”
Become a volunteer
Thanks to the wonderful support of our volunteers, Msaada has achieved a much sought-after Greater London Volunteering Charter status.
To become a Msaada volunteer, or find out more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an application pack.