Hi, my name’s Matilde, and I joined Hestia in 2022 as a Befriending volunteer and I now have a full-time position as a Community Engagement Practitioner. I started volunteering while I was finishing my master’s in Psychoanalysis. I wanted to help people and also to see if a career in mental health was something I wanted to pursue in the future so when I heard about the volunteering role, I thought it would be a great opportunity.

I volunteered at the Grove, which is a mental health service run by Hestia aiming to promote recovery, social inclusion and independence. I met with the same person every week for over a year - the idea behind befriending is to provide a sense of companionship to those who may need a friendly face and a listening ear. The person I met loved walking around the local area, and on a sunny day we’d visit the parks in West London and on the greyer days we’d go to a shopping centre. Over the year that I volunteered, we built a really good rapport and we both opened up – they had lots of interesting stories to share, and it was a really good experience for me and hopefully for them too. Befriending highlighted to me the importance of having someone to talk to and share experiences with when it comes to mental health recovery and fostering independence and confidence. 

"I aim to create a space where our service users can begin to ask those questions, look for ways to build connections in the community and make those personal goals a reality."

It was while I was volunteering that I saw the advert for my current role as a Community Engagement Practitioner in Hestia’s mental health team at St Ann’s hospital. It was a really unique opportunity to work alongside the NHS, offering outpatient support to those looking for next steps in their recovery journey. When someone is struggling with their mental health, they often aren’t able to think about their interests, hobbies or social life because they’re already dealing with so much. As a Community Engagement Practitioner, I aim to create a space where our service users can begin to ask those questions, look for ways to build connections in the community and make those personal goals a reality. Like with befriending, it’s about building rapport and trust and you can be creative in terms of the way you achieve this - that’s something I really like about the role. Another aspect that I like is the fact that we can advocate for the people we support and make sure they feel heard – I’m not a medical practitioner and I work alongside the NHS, in that respect I can take an impartial role and offer a unique service to outpatients.  

During my time in both roles, I’ve learnt about care plans, housing, psychiatry, and about myself in terms of how I like to work and where I stand on certain topics, I think this path is absolutely for me. Most importantly, I’ve learnt that the work done here is so important – we collaborate with those we support to find sustainable and safe paths to independence and reintegration into the community and all of that is achieved through building relationships and trust.

Find out more about current vacancies at Hestia.