13 June 2019

ELFT Volunteer of the Year, Kristine Olsen-Vetland, addresses the audience

The Trust held a Volunteer and Governor Recognition event on 12 June inviting all the incredible people who give their time and energy to the work of the Trust.

Chair Marie Gabriel welcomed everyone to afternoon tea, and said it was good to have the chance to formally say thank you and acknowledge the contribution they make in supporting staff, and the people who use our services and their families.

Social Club in Newham

The audience heard from Sally Kiernan, Occupational Therapist at the Newham Centre for Mental Health, with colleagues, James Hughes and Marcia Sommers who support volunteer-led social groups at the Unit on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The social events are popular and a source of great support to inpatients. Sally noted that she would often feel quite tired at the end of the working day. But then the volunteers arrive at 5pm full of energy and enthusiasm, and before she knows it, she’s all invigorated again.

Life as a Governor

Luton Governor, Jamu Patel, spoke about the privilege of working with the Trust as a Governor. She talked about how therapeutic it is to be part of something bigger and how being involved improved her own mental health wellbeing.

Dance Therapy

Leah Crowe, a dance therapist, spoke to the audience with Lordache Adriana and Len Pamphile about the volunteers who help with dance movement evening groups with service users at the Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health. She spoke about the power of dance and movement in giving people thinking space with no demands - and the joy of dancing with others.

 Thank You

Chief Executive Navina Evans added her thanks to Marie Gabriel’s, saying that it wasn’t just their time that volunteers and Governors gave, but that they gave part of themselves as well. She said she felt that the Trust was very fortunate to have such a powerful army of people who wanted to make a difference and get involved.  She spoke about ELFT Strategy and that the volunteers and Governors would be needed to help the Trust to deliver it. She also thanked the volunteer leads who support and manage the volunteers in their placements.

ELFT Volunteer of the Year Award 

It was then time for her to announce the ELFT Volunteer of the Year Award, taken from nominations by staff of volunteers who support service users. The shortlist included Anita Kaul who co-facilitates Beauty and Pamper groups at Newham Centre for Mental Health. Tony Fulham, a volunteer librarian at Tower Hamlets Recovery College, and the team of volunteers who run the newly established Lighthouse Mental Health Drop-in centre in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

And the Winner is …

The humble and very embarrassed winner was Kristine Olsen-Vetland, who volunteers at East Ham Care Centre in Newham. The audience heard that Kristine started volunteering at East Ham Care Centre Activities four years ago and attends 3-4 days each week. She generates new and creative ideas for the activities programme at the Centre and applies herself passionately. She demonstrates passion for caring and naturally elicits trust from patients and staff.

Kristine was utterly overwhelmed and said she only did what all volunteers did but said, “I love my time at East Ham Care Centre. I am happy to be able to continue to use my experience to help and support people.”