Volunteer at Mind and Age UK

SLVeteran Martha

Education: BSc Psychology - University of Liverpool, UK. 

SLV.Global Placement: Graduate Mental Health Placement, January 2017

Current Role: I am currently volunteering with West Kent Mind and Age UK, and am applying for Masters programmes for the coming year in mental health related subjects.

Tell us about your SLV.Global experience: My time away in Sri Lanka was one that I will never forget. I met many amazing and inspirational individuals that have rewarded me with the opportunity to witness their development and improvement both physically and mentally throughout my 12 weeks placement. I had so much fun interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. Whilst communicating without spoken language was difficult, I learnt, and practiced, alternative ways and began to think outside of the box. However, it was a wonderful experience when a service user would just want someone to talk to and so I would sit and listen to them talking to me in Sinhala without understanding but reassuring them that just listening was enough to make their day. It was always reassuring and warming to see smiles on everyone’s faces, despite not speaking the language. At times the projects were indeed challenging, but reminding yourself that your effort and support are appreciated all round made it that much easier. I began the placement with apprehension and worry but with the support from other volunteers and the SLV.Global national staff team I felt at ease very quickly. Working in a team with the same motivation and striving towards similar goals enabled us to swap each other’s ideas and give feedback on how well the activities went with people with different needs.

Tell us what you gained from the placement: My time in Sri Lanka has taught me that you can help someone in a way that may seem small but will mean the world to them. It has been a unique experience and I’ve learnt where my interests lie, helping me with my career decisions. I have made fantastic memories and friends for life. More importantly, I have gained the skills and confidence to take advantage of every opportunity that is available and to try things that may be daunting but will inevitably be valuable in my personal and professional development.