Our volunteer of the month for June is Ellie Chessman. Psychology final year Ellie has been volunteering on our sports project with the NHS this academic year. She has been delivering sports such as football, tennis, basketball and badminton for service users at the Newsam Centre  since September 2021. This is a really unique and rewarding project which will return for a new intake in September 2022.

Which volunteering programme are you on & what does your role involve?

I am part of the University of Leeds Sports Leadership NHS volunteering team, alongside the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The volunteering takes place on the forensic low secure mental health wards at the Newsam Centre. My role as a volunteer involves leading sporting sessions and other interactive activities with the service users. We deliver the sessions with great enthusiasm and need to be highly adaptable to meet the needs of the service users.

How much time do you commit to volunteering per week and how do you manage this alongside your studies?

I commit an hour every two weeks for the volunteering. I am a third-year psychology student and I am easily able to manage volunteering alongside my studies. It provides a nice break from my studying, which can become stressful if you don’t spend time doing other activities that you enjoy.

What made you want to volunteer?

I wanted to volunteer at the Newsam Centre because I felt stressed with my studies and I wanted something new and enjoyable to break up my week. It also looks great on your CV, it shows you have the initiative to partake in wider curricular activities by volunteering your time to the community. I knew I was keen on working within the NHS before I started this volunteering, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain invaluable insight and experience.

What is the best thing about volunteering?

The best thing about volunteering is all the new people I have been able to meet.  It is one of my favourite times of the week, the service users are so grateful for your time. Volunteering at the Newsam Centre has inspired me to complete a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. The OT’s have been really helpful and have given me advice about the course and interview stage. Suzzi has also been fantastic, providing us with the encouragement and training we needed to become great sport leaders.

What are the challenges?

I would say the only challenge in this volunteering would be the flexibility you need when delivering the sessions. This is something that becomes a lot easier as you go along.

Would you recommend volunteering to others?

I would definitely recommend volunteering. I would encourage anyone to become a sports volunteer if they get the chance to. It increases your levels of physical activity, but it can also boost your wellbeing by interacting with other members of the community.

How does it feel to win Volunteer of the Month?

I feel honoured to win volunteer of the month, I really appreciate being recognised for something that I enjoy doing. It makes me proud to be part of a team of volunteers who all put a lot of effort in. It is very rewarding knowing that we have received positive feedback from the service users and staff members. I would like to thank everyone who made the volunteering possible, including Suzzi, Caroline Agnew, all the lead volunteers and the staff members at Seacroft Hospital. I have loved this experience and I know the other volunteers have too!


Suzzi Garnett, Sports Volunteering Officer said;

I am so proud of the work our volunteers do in with the NHS. Ellie has been an absolutely outstanding member of our team of sports volunteers this year. She is always engaged and enthusiastic and has committed extra time on numerous occasions! It is really exciting that she is now pursuing Occupational Therapy and I think she will be amazing in the role!”

Caroline Agnew, Placement & Development Officer commented;

“Once again this has proved to be a successful project and an enjoyable one for the volunteers and the service users. Thank you to all the volunteers that have been so committed to this project.”

If you are interested in finding out more, check out all of our volunteering opportunities.