Several RHUL Psychology students have volunteered to give up some of their free time this spring and summer to help vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. We talked to two of our students to find out about the work they are doing and about the charities they are helping.
Abigail and Sasha
Abigail Agyemang, who will enter her third year of our BSc course in October, is a trained Crisis Volunteer for the mental health crisis text line "Shout", the UK's first textline for anyone in Crisis including supporting NHS frontline workers. Her recent work supporting a NHS Frontline texter on the platform received praise from her supervisor. Abigail has been volunteering with them for a year now, and decided to volunteer with Shout as she has a keen interest in Mental Health as not only a psychology student, but also as someone who cares for a family member that suffers with mental health difficulties. Abigail said: "It has been a positive experience as they offer free extensive online training, lots of supporting online resources and support from a community of other volunteers and qualified mental health professionals. It is very rewarding knowing that you are helping others who feel they have nobody and receiving feedback from texters to say that you have made a real difference to their lives".
To mark the start of Mental Health Awareness week earlier this spring, 'Shout' teamed up with 'Head's Together' - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's mental health charity to create a 'Mental Health Minute' video. The eagle eyed can spot Abigail briefly appearing right at the end (she's the one in yellow - the little square directly under Kate!)
Sasha Coates, who will enter her second year of our BSc course in October, has signed up to be a pen-friend with Sing-Along Surrey during COVID-19. Sing-Along Surrey is a Royal Holloway student-led project to engage with elderly local residents. The pen-friend initiative involves writing letters to the elderly in a local retirement village. Sasha feels that this is a very positive way to be spending her time since lockdown has had a variety of impacts on everyone. Many elderly people are facing loneliness in the current times and just spending a small amount of time writing to somebody helps to maintain some level of social contact. Sasha says: "Volunteering during COVID-19 has not proven easy due to the large number of volunteers coming forward meaning finding opportunities to get involved in can be difficult, for example, I tried to get involved in an opportunity where you become a COVID-19 telephone befriender, but they were full and I was put on a waiting list. However, I recommend persevering with this as the benefits can be substantial".
The Department of Psychology thanks all our inspirational students who are contributing to the COVID-19 efforts in so many different ways! Students can find out more about volunteering opportunities at royalholloway.ac.uk/volunteering