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Kevin Mackenzie has recently been recruited into a volunteer position as a patient representative at Montpellier Low Secure Unit at Wotton Lawn Hospital in Gloucester. In this first-person piece he writes about his route to becoming a volunteer and how he’s finding his new role.

“My name is Kevin Mackenzie and I have recently been successfully recruited into a volunteer position for Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

“My role as a volunteer is to visit Montpellier Unit once per week to work alongside the staff and provide patients with a friendly face and a central contact to enable them to discuss any issues or concerns which I can then raise with staff and the management.

“I do not mind sharing that I have been a patient many times myself and I particularly like Montpellier Unit and the staff there. The unit has given me a lot and this is my way of helping others and repaying the good things they did for me. My supervisors, Nichole and Vicky, also want me to help with other projects, including reviewing other secure units via the CCQI network and recruiting other staff members to join the team.

“A typical shift for me on Montpellier Unit includes getting to the unit on time, meeting with the staff member who supports me throughout each shift and then spending time within communal areas talking to the patients and encouraging them to share any issues they may be having.

“I visit the ward in the afternoon and stay into the evening, which helps, as it is a time we eat together and it seems to naturally help people come together. I also stay on the ward for the weekly community meeting, which keeps me up to date and also allows me to raise any issues that patients have shared, but may not feel comfortable voicing themselves.

“Issues I have helped with so far include being respectful of others when playing music and toilet habits, as we all have to learn to live alongside each other as best as possible.

“My career goal is to become an Expert by Experience for the Trust, so I can continue to develop my skills and be rewarded further for my time. I view my role as being particularly inspiring to other patients, as I have been in their shoes and my volunteering demonstrates to them that there is hope and an alternative path.

“If you have any questions or queries regarding my role please contact Montpellier Unit on 01452 894579 and leave a message for me or my supervisors, Nichole and Vicky.”

We are pleased to inform you that since writing this article, Kevin has achieved his goal of becoming an Expert by Experience for the Trust. Congratulations and welcome to GHC, Kevin!