As part of Volunteers’ Week North Bristol NHS Trust is celebrating the commitment of the volunteers who support patients, staff and visitors throughout its services.
This year’s Volunteers’ Week is more special because the trust is celebrating the achievements of its volunteers who supported services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were approximately 600 registered volunteers supporting the trust’s work at Southmead and Cossham hospitals ahead of the pandemic, in roles as diverse as pianists, therapy dogs, meet and greeters, mobile shop, befriending and peer supporters. But during the pandemic there was a shift in the work volunteers could do and those who were unable to attend the hospital due to shielding and other reasons.
COVID-19 also meant there were new roles for NBT’s army of volunteers to support, such as the meet and greeters who took on new roles to support the changes to visiting and PPE.
Gradually, some volunteers are starting to return to support the trust and we are delighted to be welcoming them back.
Volunteer Service Manager, Kat Tudor, said: “We have such a wonderful team of volunteers here at North Bristol NHS Trust and we know that our patients and colleagues appreciate the additional support they provide.
“We are so grateful for the commitment of our volunteers and really appreciate the way they have adapted to the changes the pandemic brought.
“We know it has been hard for some of our volunteers not coming in over the last year and we are really looking forward to gradually welcoming them back into our services.”
Some of our volunteers share their experiences:
El Green started volunteering during the pandemic, as a Meet and Greet volunteer in the Antenatal Clinic, starting in October 2020.
“My role was created because of the changes caused by the pandemic so I joined during the pandemic and have been volunteering here since,” El said.
“I meet all of the patients and their partners when they come into the ward; get them to sanitise their hands, make sure they’re wearing face masks, answer any questions they’ve got if I can, or direct them to where they need to ask if I don’t know the answer.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I was explaining when partners could and couldn’t come in and where to wait, but now partners are allowed in for everything so my role has changed a bit.
“I find the interactions with patients rewarding. Sometimes we have a good laugh whilst they’re waiting to go in and some of the things that they tell me can be really touching.”
Chris Lindop was one of the original Move Makers, who started when the main Brunel building opened at Southmead Hospital in 2014, to help show people around and check them in for their appointments.
She said: “So many of the people who come through those doors are either ill or in pain or late or worried or any number of things are going wrong, and they find it such a relief to run into a friendly face who can go “What’s going on? How can I help?”. It makes such a huge difference to people and that’s brilliant.
“Something I’ve really enjoyed here is that very occasionally, you get someone who has had to come to hospital on their birthday. With their permission, we support them to do check in, including their date of birth, and sometimes you think “Hang on a minute, that’s today!” so we’ve sung Happy Birthday to them and it’s nice as it’s not ideal to be in hospital on your birthday.”
Chris has returned to her volunteering role, having been stood down during the second wave of the pandemic.
“I was stood down in October 2020 and came back in April 2021,” she said.
“I missed seeing the rest of the Monday morning team and chatting to them. It’s a very good team, we have a lot of fun together and I always look forward to coming in on a Monday morning and catching up with them all.”
Casper Turner has been volunteering as a Move Maker at Southmead Hospital since January this year. He helps people checking-in for their appointments, having previously been involved in the patient belongings service when visiting restrictions were in place during the height of pandemic.
“When we were doing the Patient’s Belongings service before visitors were allowed back in, to take things up to wards for patients, sometimes people were also bringing in little gifts for the staff , to thank them, and it was always really nice to be the messenger there and be the person passing that message of thanks on,” Casper said.
“When patients come back through after they’ve been to their appointment and they thank you for helping to check them, or to get them to their appointment on time or to take people in wheelchairs down to the different gates – when they thank you for making that part of their day easier, it does just feel really good and you feel really proud of yourself, really valued and glad you’ve been able to help.”
Read more about our volunteers and how they support our services here.