Anchor

Public Engagement project

Reaching out to local communities with mental health support and advice at London's busiest train stations

The Maudsley Charity is supporting volunteers to work in our local communities, providing advice and information to commuters at London train stations. Sheila is a Maudsley Charity funded volunteer who leads a small team of expert volunteers who talk to patients and the general public about mental health, Sheila hopes to empower people and provide them with greater insight and understanding into mental health. Her work provides the opportunity to reach commuters and others who might not ordinarily come into contact with mental health services.

“Being a volunteer is an opportunity to give something back.” Explains Sheila. She continues: “It’s a way to empower people and help build their confidence. Many of the people that work with me move on to get employment or take on other volunteering rolls."

Sheila Woodward, Volunteer

Sheila talks about the impact the work has:

“I was working at a train station and we were approached by a young woman who was at her wits’ end. She was very concerned about her brother’s deteriorating mental health. He was already in a bad way and was becoming more and more introverted and uncommunicative. In effect, he was shutting down and she feared he might try to take his own life.

“She and her family felt that they had exhausted every option. They had been struggling for ages. However we were able to give her some practical and valuable advice.

“By the time she left she had she said that the help we had offered, and the kindness and understanding we had shown her, had spurred her on and given her the resolve to get her brother the help he desperately needed. She said we had restored the feeling of ‘hope’ in her, and that it felt good to have it back.”

Sheila concludes: “When you are able to help in some way and can make even a small difference to someone’s troubles, it makes the volunteering very worthwhile. It gives me, and my colleagues, a real sense of satisfaction that we’ve been able to do some good.”

sheila woodward and volunteers cannon street February 2019 pic 3
Volunteers at Cannon St train station

Sheila Woodward, award winner

Sheila has been recognised for her dedication and hard work to breakdown stigma in mental health, through a South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust staff award. Sheila built links with the British Transport Police and Network Rail and set up public information stalls in train stations. Along with a team of people, Sheila takes time to provide advice and signpost people to get help. Much of this work Sheila does in her own time, using her own resources.

Sheila also manages the information sharing service at Lambeth Hospital, a scheme which sees Sheila and her volunteers visiting every ward at the hospital weekly, to provide information to patients.

Sheila said: “Being nominated for this award has meant a lot. It shows that it recognises the work that I and others have been doing. There is misunderstanding about mental health issues. By getting information out there we can help break down stigma. Working alongside other organisations we’re helping to say to everybody mental health is there and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Award winning

Sheila was recognised for making an outstanding contribution to the local community.