Volunteer awarded for two decades of helping others

A volunteer who has been giving her time to help those facing mental illness for over two decades has been awarded the title of “Health and Care Volunteer of the Year”, at this year’s Cornwall Celebrates Volunteering Awards.

Volunteer awarded for two decades of helping others

The award title was sponsored by the Duchy Health Charity and the ceremony was organised by Volunteer Cornwall at the world-famous Eden Project.

Having overcome mental illness herself, Rosemary Wickett, who is retired and from Delabole, began volunteering for the Camel Club, a self-help group for those facing a mental illness, 25 years ago when she progressed from patient to volunteer. Rosemary now runs the group, and thanks to her dedication and kind spirit, the group enjoys lunches, tea and coffee and the opportunity to socialise, allowing people in the community to feel wanted and accepted for who they are.

With a long experience of volunteering within mental health services, Rosemary has worked within a number of teams at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) and is currently a Spiritual and Pastoral Volunteer, providing support to patients with mental illness. Additionally, Rosemary also volunteers on Harvest ward, a psychiatric intensive care unit within Bodmin Hospital, as part of the Chaplain’s department and helps to prepare for Christmas, Easter, harvest festivals and any religious celebration that requires food and cooking.

A recent study by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), reported that those aged 25 to 34 years old are the least likely to formally volunteer with 15% volunteering once a month. The highest rates of volunteering can be found amongst 65 to 74 year olds, with 29% volunteering once a month and 42% at least once a year. In a 2017/18 study, ‘improving things’ and ‘helping others’ were the most common reasons why people volunteer (46% of those surveyed). 31% of people said they gave time because the cause was important to them. However, one in two people surveyed said that work commitments are a barrier to volunteering and more than one third said they do other things in their spare time.*

Christine Pascoe who is CFT’s Volunteer Manager commented “Volunteers are valuable assets to the health care community. Without the support of volunteers some of the groups wouldn’t exist, which could lead to isolation and loneliness. It is not only patients but also carers that benefit from the support of our wonderful volunteers.

“I am delighted that Rosemary has been recognised for her dedication and for all the support she has given to the Trust and the community over many years – Rosemary is passionate about supporting people with mental health illnesses and she really enjoys volunteering.

“Rosemary will sit with patients who are distressed and disturbed and will always remain calm. Patients who have more than one admission are always pleased to see her again and the ward team always knows when Rosemary is on the ward, as the kitchen will soon smell of something warming and appetising! She often shares family recipes with our patients and is tranquil and kind in her teaching and demonstrating; patients really enjoy the process and the end result. Rosemary is helping to make the potentially stressful environment of a psychiatric ward, hold every day and homely activities for the patients.”

Additionally, Rosemary visits some patients in care-homes, supports people who have been bereaved and also supports people at their end of life. She also volunteers for Age UK by holding two coffee mornings a week.

Rosemary commented “I am thrilled to get the award, although I didn’t volunteer for it.  I volunteer to give back for the care I received when I was well looked after many years ago.  Having recovered from mental health illness I like to give an example to others, to show that you can get well.”