Coronavirus: Youth justice administrator takes on volunteer role to help out Park Royal mental health centre

Gabriella Verta volunteering at Park Royal Mental Health Unit during Covid crisis. Picture: CNWL

Gabriella Verta volunteering at Park Royal Mental Health Unit during Covid crisis. Picture: CNWL - Credit: Archant

An administrator with a prison background has swapped office clothes for scrubs and masks to become a volunteer ward assistant in Park Royal.

Gabriella Verta has started work on the Tasman Low Secure Unit at the Park Royal Menatl Health Centre in Central Way this week.

She is one of 14 people to make up the first tranche of Central North West London NHS Trust’s volunteer ward assistants.

The role has been developed to take the pressure off frontline staff in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic and is part of CNWL’s staff redeployment strategy.

Gabrielle’s regular paid job is as Youth Criminal Justice liaison diversion administrator for the Offender Care Service Line, and has previously worked at Holloway Prison and Wormwood Scrubs.

“As soon as CNWL started asking for volunteers to help out frontline staff, I jumped at the chance,” she said.

“It’s non-stop and very long hours and as it’s on a mental health unit it’s challenging and testing and draining but mental health is absolutely fascinating for me and it’s great they want me there. Working along side these brilliant nurses here too have really helped settle me in.”

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I’m there to help with the meal times and to speak with the patients and to help the clinical staff when they need help and I love it. I feel I should be doing something so for me it’s great that I can actually get out and help the frontline NHS staff, rather than just being in a back office role.”

She added: “The last couple of days have been challenging because there are a lot of challenging patients there, but a lot of the patients just want to speak with someone and I love walking around and talking to patients, I have developed over such a short period time with them a good rapport with them.”

Tasman Ward manager Jude Anaedu said: “For us, this programme has been fantastic and has helped us a lot because we have had shortages in some areas so we are fortunate to have her here.

“Some of our patients have either been Covid positive or have displayed symptoms so it’s been hard work.

“I’ve worked with her before at Holloway Prison and knew she’d be ideal for us. She’s extremely hard-working; she’s non-stop and eager to help and has done everything asked of her.”