A Rotherham College student has received recognition for her hard work in supporting the recovery of mental health sufferers in the local community.
Daigon North, who is studying Health and Social Care at the College, volunteered at Swallownest Court, which provides rehabilitation support for long-term patients.
Daigon started volunteering as part of her College course, which requires students to undertake a placement, and took to the role with success, which lead to her winning third place in the Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber (RDaSH) NHS Volunteer Awards in 2016.
Acting as a peer support for patients, Daigon helps explain the recovery process and what to expect when they leave the hospital. As a volunteer, Daigon’s role is diverse; she is seen as a visitor to some, and an advocate to others.
“Some patients are open about talking to me about worries and concerns as they don’t see me a figure of authority. I am in a position to voice their concerns to staff, who will then provide the necessary support,” Daigon said.
Daigon has a long-standing connection with the hospital, which has supported her with her own mental health conditions in the past. “It’s been a long recovery journey, but I’m glad I’ve got the opportunity to help others now”, she said.
For Daigon, the best part of the role is getting to know patients, and one patient has even requested that Daigon carries on her work with her after she leaves the centre, which she is receiving special training for.
“The experience is different every day because you’re working with people from all different backgrounds and cultures, so you learn a lot. We work with people with a lot of different illnesses, so I’m always learning something new,” she said.
Unaware that she had been nominated for her award, Daigon was presented with her certificate at a Christmas meal for volunteers. “I was gobsmacked to have won, as some of the nominees had been working in the care sector for over twenty years,” she said.
Daigon is planning on a career in nursing and is confident that her volunteering and College course are laying the groundwork for this. “It’s like an ocean of experience for me. My course and volunteer work go hand in hand together,” Daigon said.
Volunteering will also remain a key part of Daigon’s life, as she been asked get involved with an NHS initiative called Listening into Action, which RDaSH launched in April 2016. The initiative focuses on engaging staff, patients, carers and partners to make changes that will improve the experience provided.