Posted on: 9 June 2020

Laura Johnson (2).jpgBudding drama student Laura Johnson had her eyes opened to the world of mental health inpatient units after deciding to volunteer at Milton Keynes’ Campbell Centre as part of her Covid-19 response.

Although she’s only been there a week, she’s found it’s a world of caring and dedicated staff looking after patients in need of their help and support.

“I didn’t really know what I thought it would be like, but like everybody else I probably had an image in my head that came from the movies and I guess I was a bit nervous when I first arrived.

“I can safely say it hasn’t come remotely close to this image and I’ve been learning a lot – I know a lot more about how mental health services work, how patients are assessed to work out the treatment they will need or the level of support and care they will need while here. There’s a really nice welcoming supportive feel here; everyone is looking out for each other and they’ve clearly got the best interests of the patients at heart.

“It’s amazing to see what goes on behind the scenes of our incredible NHS and it’s an honour to be able to be a small part of that.”

Laura, who comes from Milton Keynes, decided to volunteer after being furloughed from Milton Keynes Theatre and finding she had time on her hands.

After seeing all the positive coverage from the media and the public towards the NHS during the pandemic, when she heard about the volunteering opportunities at CNWL and the NHS she signed up, thinking she had to do her bit. 

After a few weeks Laura, 24, got a phone call from the volunteer recruitment team. They discussed available roles and discovered that she has an interest in psychology so was put in touch with the Occupational Therapy Team at the Campbell Centre to find out more about how she could help them.

She spoke with Spencer Soilleux, the Social & Recovery Team Manager and Lead Occupational Therapist at the Campbell Centre who sold the role to her.

The role involves admin, interacting and engaging with patients and helping with group activities, such as music therapy.

She added: “It will be helpful to me personally to see different types of therapy, so it will be a good experience to see how it works. I’m particularly interested in drama therapy, given I’m due to go to drama school in London in September.

“Although only music therapy is currently offered at the Campbell Centre, this is close to drama therapy and seeing the therapy opportunities it’s made me think about whether this might be an area for me fulltime.

“I do hope to continue with volunteering with CNWL, whether it is at the Campbell Centre during holiday time or closer to the school in London, time permitting obviously!”

Spencer said: “Thankyou to Laura for coming to provide some help to us. We’re always on the lookout for people who want to volunteer for us and Laura is exactly the type of person we look for. “She’s inquisitive, bubbly and sociable. I’m pleased we’ve been able to provide such a pleasant start for you and have managed to demystify some of what happens within a mental health unit.”