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Posted on Jun 29 2022 by Fiona Bailey

Volunteering at a secure psychiatric hospital has given the career of young woman in Birmingham “direction and purpose”.

Kimberly Gardner, 21, who spoke out during Volunteers’ Week, which was earlier this month, began her volunteering journey aged just 18 when she moved from Liverpool to the Midlands.

Keen to gain experience in forensic psychology experience, a friend told her about St Andrew’s Healthcare.

Kimberly said: “I had been trying to gain experience within the sector, but it’s impossible until you turn 18. When I heard of St Andrew’s Healthcare I jumped at the chance as I had just turned 18, so I got in touch.”

After an interview with Voluntary Services Manager Dawn Wright, Kimberly was asked to join the team.

She said: “I was told I could spend time on the female wards, getting to know the patients. I was a bit apprehensive at first as I literally didn’t know what to expect. I’m ashamed to say that most of my preconceptions were based on what the media said and what mental hospitals were like back in the 60s.

“I’m pleased to say that the wards I visited were absolutely nothing like what I had imagined. They were really homely. Staff and patients were laughing together and it was a really nice environment. It wasn’t scary at all, infact I enjoyed every second of it.”

Having got to know some of the patients and staff, Kimbery said it “confirmed” what she already knew, that she wanted to be a forensic psychologist.

She added: “Volunteering really enriched my life and gave me even more direction and purpose.”

Now Kimberly is working at the hospital as an Assistant Psychologist, but she will always be forever grateful to the opprtunuty the volunteering service team gave her.

For more information about volunteering at St Andrew’s Healthcare, click here.