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As part of National Mentoring Month, we want to introduce you to one of our Hospital Navigator Volunteers, Alex. The Hospital Navigator Scheme is run from the A&E department at Milton Keynes Hospital and enables our team of volunteers to support young people aged 13-35 who are experiencing gang activity, serious violence or domestic abuse. Our volunteers act as mentors, providing support and signposting to help young people move towards a more positive pathway.

Q. How long have you been a Hospital Navigator Volunteer and why did you apply for the position?

 

A. I have been a Hospital Navigator since August 2020. I initially applied through my studies to gain an understanding of how social issues affect young individuals whilst being able to be part of an increasingly important project that reduces serious violence across Milton Keynes and its surrounding areas. In addition to this, I was looking to explore the causes of serious violence and how we can address these issues; the project enabled me to gather insight into the current issues we face today.

Q. Can you give examples of the ways in which you’ve helped young people through the Hospital Navigator Scheme to date?

A. Through mentoring, I have provided valuable and effective aid which has safeguarded, supported, and improved individuals’ lifestyles across Milton Keynes.

Some of these examples consist of signposting them to third sector organisations such as MK Act and MIND. We have provided rehousing for vulnerable individuals and have supported them in contacting local authorities and/or emergency services. Our priority has always been keeping vulnerable individuals safe and comfortable, therefore we ensured that our service was consensual and at the individual’s own pace.

Additionally, and in my opinion the most important factor, I have also provided immediate emotional support for young individuals. While waiting to access NHS mental health services, we are in regular contact with the young people we support, which has a positive influence during that period.

Q. Why do you think it’s important for young people to have access to a mentor?

A. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, young individuals have increasingly become victims of serious violence, such as domestic violence and serious assaults. Homelessness rates have also increased and the mental wellbeing of many young adults has worsened.

This is why I strongly believe that access to a mentor such as a Hospital Navigator is a critically important part of community-based care. Mentors bring valuable information to vulnerable individuals; we are able to safeguard and guide people to the most appropriate and efficient pathway whilst also being someone that they can rely on. Sometimes, just being there for someone or supporting them through their loneliest moment can make the biggest difference in their life. I urge people to volunteer as a mentor or refer vulnerable individuals to mentors during these difficult times.

Q. What benefits have you gained yourself through your volunteer role?

A. Through this project, I have developed increasingly important communication skills and have been put through all sorts of scenarios, which have given me an understanding of how the NHS and the police service work together to provide support to individuals. It has given me a passion for mental health, and it has allowed me to be sociable whilst providing a vital service to my local community. I have also developed a personal understanding of how I can deal with my own issues and have come to understand that there will always be someone in need within the community, therefore, further reasoning the importance of community-based programmes and mentors.

To find out more about our Hospital Navigator Scheme, click on the link below.