We’re delighted to share a very insightful blog from our Advisory Group Member Keri about a volunteering initiative she’s recently completed at MFT.
“In February 2023, Goldsmiths, the London University I work for, launched an initiative that I was keen to sign up for. My employer encouraged me ‘to give back’ to my local community through volunteering.
For nearly three years, I have been a member of MFT’s Advisory Group. It seemed a natural progression to approach MFT to see if they could accommodate the ‘Civic University Agreement’. The leaders of the Advisory Group, Jan and Redeka, were hugely receptive to the idea and a volunteering programme was especially designed for me.
It was an ideal opportunity for me to see the full scope of day-to-day work that drives MFT. On my first day, Connie, MFT’s Communications Lead, and I discussed how to improve the newsletter as well as website plans, where I felt my ideas were valued and appreciated. In the afternoon, I went with Dina, MFT’s Community Connections Area Co-ordinator, to a workshop on ‘Mindfulness and Compassion’. This was facilitated perfectly by Lucy. I was introduced to ‘The Feelings Wheel’ and I was impressed by the conversations this wellbeing tool sparked amongst the participants.
I also had an in-depth chat with Matthew, MFT’s Volunteer Co-ordinator, and learnt about the tricky but essential nature of governance and the importance of data within the charity.
My last day out of the three, saw me have a stimulating discussion with Redeka about Co-Production, which is a Strategic Pillar of the charity and the Advisory Group’s primary objective. There were lots of aha! moments, laughter and agreements between us both.
From the outset, I had open-minded expectations about the volunteering experience. Obviously, I did have a head start, as I knew Jan and Redeka beforehand. However, from the beginning to the end of my volunteering: whether it was an introduction by the genuinely friendly Receptionist, Emma, or a preliminary workshop with the CEO, Patrick and Head of Operations John, I was treated with respect and value.
I would have liked to have visited more of the MFT sites. I have a distant, clinical memory of the Brickfield Centre. However, I have recently heard that MFT has transformed the garden at Brickfield and there are wonderful, inviting artwork canvasses around the building now. Perhaps, I will take myself there on one of the MFT Open Evenings.
From a volunteering programme at MFT, I believe an Advisory Group member would get a deeper insight into the importance of their work. It has definitely helped me build more rapport with staff at the charity and I enjoyed all the pieces of work I was asked to do.
Thank you to my employer and MFT, particularly, Jan and Redeka, for allowing me to have such a wonderful experience.”
Redeka (left) our Co-Production and Community Engagement Worker, and Keri (right), our Advisory Group Member, working together at our Leatherhead office.