Health Care Volunteering

13 December 2017

Have you every considered volunteering in a health care setting?  Perhaps these two volunteer stories will inspire you!

Jess’ Story – Gaining Valuable Career Experience

I’ve always had a fear of hospitals, possibly triggered by a scary incident as a child where a relative was taken seriously ill to the hospital.  As a result, I discounted any chance of ever working in a healthcare setting.

When I had my daughter in 2016, the care I received in hospital changed my mind, and I decided I wanted to have a more fulfilling career than my current one in Insurance.  I started looking into training to be a midwife.  Part of that journey involves showing an understanding of the healthcare system and what better way to do that than to become a volunteer?

I began volunteering outside of the hospital, but when I returned to work after maternity leave the times clashed with work so I had to stop.  I then discovered the hospital were looking for volunteers so I signed up and amazingly there was an opportunity to volunteer on the post-natal ward – exactly what I wanted!

I currently volunteer on a Sunday morning on the ward, and typical duties include helping with breakfast rounds, assisting with bed changes, answering the door and telephone calls etc.  I am training with the feeding specialists to be part of a new volunteer scheme assisting the breastfeeding coordinators, something that is a passion of mine, and I can’t wait to get started.

The time I spend on the wards is brilliant, interacting with staff and clients (and getting to coo over the new borns).  I have learnt so much from just listening to people and certainly feel more confident.  It’s incredibly rewarding, and when I turn up on a Sunday morning I know the midwives and support staff are excited because I get the time to make a cup of tea for them!

“It’s a great learning experience and I feel l I’ve got a lot to give but even more to take from volunteering, and I hope more people will offer up their time.”

I have applied to hopefully start a midwifery degree next year.  I feel confident, but if I don’t get a place this year I know I can always reapply and meanwhile gain valuable experience volunteering with the midwifery team.

Volunteering  at the hospital has been extremely enjoyable, and not once have I been made to feel like “just” a volunteer.  I feel like a valued member of the team (especially wearing the bright blue t-shirt and lanyard!) and get thanked endlessly by the staff for my time.

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and feels very rewarding, even if that reward is to provide a cuppa for a tired midwife in the middle of her shift.

Eric’s Story – Putting Something Back in Retirement

I retired last autumn aged 67 after 50 years working for local government.  My commitment to public service was ingrained and undiminished after all this time so I still wanted, in a small way, to try and make a difference.  A few months later I was working occasionally for the 6th Form College, as well as volunteering at my grandchildren’s primary school and at Colchester Hospital.

When I was accepted as a volunteer at the Hospital I was asked what I would like to do.  After a bit of thought I concluded that as an accountant I might be able to do a bit of good raising funds for the many projects that could improve the patient experience.

Over the last 8 months I’ve been trying to help raise funds with a small number of dedicated people at the hospital for their wonderful ‘Time Garden’ project which will convert a quadrangle in the heart of the hospital into a tranquil garden with a “log cabin” building where patients near the end of their life can have some time with their family, friends and even their pets.

Since February when we had raised £40,000 with some £120,000 left to go, we now have £120,000 raised and committed with £40,000 left to go.  A lot of hard work has been put in by several people.

Fundraising has its “highs” and “lows” and you can have these in the same day sometimes!

One of the frustrating things is sending emails to firms or people that never get a response.  A rapid “no” would be better than a deafening silence leaving you wondering….

The moments you cherish are when money is given either directly or by grants you have applied for.  There have been some significant donations from sources such as Tesco, Big Choices vote (run by Colchester Borough Council) and from the Freemasons.  These were really ‘punch the air’ moments!

I sometimes reflect on the sums I’m helping to raise now compared to the much larger amounts I was involved in when working.  But size doesn’t always matter!  It is more about the shared experience, the joy of supporting the fantastically dedicated staff in the hospital and the determination to make our project come to fruition.

Click on the links below to view a selection of  volunteering roles from health care providers or carry out your own search from the Home Page:

Provide

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

Southend Hospital – Macmillan Complementary Therapist

Farleigh Hospice


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