Meet the NHS volunteers on the frontline

Bury reporter, Lesley Downing, introduces us to fellow Fairfield Hospital volunteers in celebration of Volunteers’ Week (1-7th June)

I have been volunteering on the main reception desk at Fairfield Hospital since last September. During the pandemic, volunteers have been helping to distribute care-packages to patients from their friends and relatives as visiting is restricted.  We also help to sign post people to the various departments, and help in any way we can to relieve the pressure on the NHS staff.  It can be fun and challenging, and trekking around the hospital certainly helps to get my steps in.

During volunteer week I thought I would get the thoughts of some of my colleagues.

Chris Hill has been volunteering here since April 2020, starting just as lock down was kicking in – only getting in under the 70 year old cut-off by a few weeks (an age limit that was temporarily brought in to protect vulnerable over-70s during the pandemic). Her brother, another volunteer got her interested. She does 2 shifts per week and is relishing it. She loves meeting new people, and facing constantly changing situations, where her generous nature quickly puts people at their ease and gains their trust. She loves that it is an active role.  She also likes that it gets her out of the house and reduces her shopping time!

Emma Thiele joined us in the Autumn. At 17 she is one of our youngest volunteers.  She is doing A levels and hopes to go on to study medicine, so this seemed a natural fit for her.  She feels that she makes a difference every day, seeing people arrive, flustered, nervous, not sure what to expect or what they should be doing. With calm friendliness she helps them to relax and is then able to guide or assist them to where they need to be.

We all love taking the care packages to the wards – such a simple way to help the staff, keep the patients connected to their loved ones, and have their needs met.  We also enjoy taking the many gifts the staff receive from grateful patients and relatives. We’re privileged to be part of this wonderful service.

I also spoke to Caroline Short who is the Volunteer Lead at Fairfield. At 56, having spent most of her career in Design and Personal Assistant positions she was asked to take on this completely different role and a year in is loving it.

Being a patient/customer focused role is both challenging and hugely rewarding. She finds her team of volunteers to be amazing, their diversity, experience and professionalism outstanding. She likes that it’s a very collaborative environment with everyone teaching each other. Caroline is a very positive, can-do sort of person, and thrives on the energy her multi-generational team brings to the tasks. She also takes pride in the fact that it has become the gateway to employment for several of the team, and also that today’s volunteering offers such a vast range of opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

She also revels in the many, many shows of gratitude the team receives, and the outstanding contribution they have made to Fairfield during this very tough year. And I’ll just add my thank you to Caroline – you’ve nurtured us, we couldn’t do it without you.

Caroline Short, Volunteer Lead at Fairfield Hospital

If you’re interested in volunteering, contact [email protected]

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