Exploring Voluntary Psychology Opportunities in the UK- The Dragon Cafe
Rosa is a graduate from Exeter University who just completed her Masters degree in Organisational Psychology and Psychiatry at King’s College London.
We were really intrigued when Rosa told us about her extra-curricular voluntary position, so we’ve asked her to write about it. We understand that finding a voluntary psychology opportunities in the UK can be tough, but as Rosa can attest to, the opportunities are out there, just sometimes in quite unlikely places.
Rosa says,”I currently volunteer with the Dragon Café, part of the Mental Fight Club initiative, providing a safe creative community space for those who are affected by mental health issues. Their inspiring motto is to create, relate and integrate; representing the core values of the Café.
The café runs every Monday in the Crypt of St George the Martyr Church in Borough. Every week the team of 50+ volunteers puts on a variety of workshops; from gardening, to dancing or mindfulness practice, to photography to tai-chi, or art and photography, to yoga, chess or even massage; something for everyone to enjoy, participate in and feel part of an integrated community. There is also a fantastic vegetarian kitchen providing delicious low cost meals, hot drinks and sweet treats.
As a volunteer, my role varies from week to week. My official role is to tidy away the equipment at the end of the day, however, I’m frequently floating around helping in the kitchen, providing support during workshops and generally providing help and advice to the patrons of the café.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to be involved in volunteer training workshops helping me deal with delicate and potentially volatile situations that can arise. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in and listen to conversations on ‘Re-Creating Psychiatry’ an initiative where mental health professionals and service users have significant input and discuss pertinent issues within the mental health systems, something I have found particularly valuable.
It has been so interesting to see how the future of psychiatry, psychology and service user involvement is developing and witness real-life stories of service users outside of the ivory tower lectures that are so common at University. My volunteering with the Dragon Café has also been invaluable gaining hands on experience with mental health helping prepare me for my upcoming voluntary placement in Sri Lanka.”
We’re excited to see what’s next for Rosa and hope that she continues to hunt out these unique opportunities in the future.