Call for volunteers to support new ways of delivering mental health care in North Wales

L2R Louise Sharon Dylan I CAN Centre volunteers

Could you spare a few hours to make a difference for people experiencing mental health difficulties in your local community?

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is looking for volunteers to supports its new I CAN services, which will make it easier for people to access mental health support closer to home.

The Health Board’s I CAN campaign aims to provide earlier support for people experiencing mental health difficulties and encourage open conversations about the topic.

It has already seen new mental health support introduced for people in crisis at North Wales’ three Emergency Departments,  as well as a programme to help people with mental health difficulties find and remain in employment.

BCUHB has also launched I CAN Mental Health Awareness Training, which is being delivered free of charge.

Volunteers are now being sought to support new I CAN Community Hubs and I CAN Primary Care services, which are being established in partnership with mental health charities and North Wales’ six local authorities.

I CAN Community Hubs will bring a range of organisations together under one roof to provide advice, support and somebody to talk to for people who are struggling with mental health, drug or alcohol problems, relationship breakdowns, employment difficulties, debt, housing issues and loneliness.

I CAN Primary Care services will make it easier for people to access advice and support on these issues in a GP Surgery setting.

Unlike many existing support services, I CAN Community Hubs and Primary Care services can be accessed without a referral or an appointment.

Lesley Singleton, Director of Partnerships at BCUHB, said: “We’re looking for people over 18 years old who have a few hours to spare and who want to help make a difference for people in their local community.

“Volunteers already complement the work of our NHS staff and play a really crucial role in helping us ensure that people who are struggling with their mental health have somewhere to turn. We’re looking for volunteers with good people skills who can provide emotional support and a listening ear.

“There are a range of different opportunities available, with flexible hours to suit people’s busy lives. Full training on a range of mental health related issues will be provided along with ongoing support.”

Kerry Grummert started volunteering at the I CAN Centre at Wrexham Maelor Hospital in January 2019. Since then he has found paid employment as an I CAN Volunteer Coordinator. He said:

“Volunteering is incredibly rewarding and it’s amazing what a kind, non-judgemental ear and a good cuppa can do for people during their hour of need.

“We’re passionate about developing the skills and experience of our volunteers to enable them to get on in the world of work and provide the best support to people in need.”

On Friday 8th November drop in sessions will be held at the Citizens Advice Bureau, Holyhead (10-4pm) and Felinfach Centre, Pwllheli (1-3pm) for anybody interested in volunteering.

To register your interest in volunteering please email ican@wales.nhs.uk. To find out more about the I CAN campaign please visit: https://bcuhb.nhs.wales/i-can/