Hospital volunteers kickstart their careers

Two former hospital volunteers have hung up their blue polos for a new uniform as they take on their new careers.

Our Trust has almost 350 volunteers, working behind the scenes in hospitals to support staff and help patients. The roles offer a number of benefits – just one of which is gaining vital experience in a hospital environment.

Now two former volunteers, Ganga and Gareth, have begun their new careers at the Trust.

Ganga’s story

Ganga Patabandige in her new uniform.Originally from Sri Lanka, 44-year-old Ganga Patabandige moved to Stockton two and a half years ago after living in Italy.

Ganga began volunteering at the University Hospital of North Tees two years ago. She volunteered her time as a welcomer in the outpatients department, offering a friendly face, helping patients to check in and escorting them to their appointments.

On her first day as a volunteer, she told the Trust’s volunteer coordination team that she was ‘overwhelmed and slightly afraid’, but with the support of her volunteer buddy Wayne to show her the ropes, she soon saw her confidence grow as she pursued her passion in helping patients.

Ganga said: “Volunteering here has helped me to develop many personal qualities, such as my confidence and my communication skills. The experience has been invaluable.”

But Ganga hung up her blue volunteer polo shirt for the last time six months ago to begin her new role as a domestic assistant throughout the hospital. Since then, she has been working her way up the ranks and has now taken on a second role as an endoscopy assistant in the central sterile services department.

She is now responsible for ensuring that reusable medical devices and equipment are cleaned, sterilised and repackaged to a very high standard – ready for endoscopy procedures.

Ganga continued: “I’d been looking for employment in the Trust ever since I started and, like buses, two opportunities came at once! I love the learning and training involved in my new endoscopy role and would love to progress further.”

Facilities service lead Julie Holmes said: “Ganga is a fantastic domestic and has achieved so much within a small space of time. Ganga has also achieved a role within the CSSD department and has been a valuable asset to the Trust.”

Gareth’s story

Gareth Orr organising clean scrubs.29-year-old Gareth Orr from Shotton Colliery began volunteering at the Trust in 2021, shadowing in linen services and supporting staff by cleaning touch points.

Commended by his colleagues in the department, he soon found employment within the team as a part-time facilities assistant.

Gareth said: “Volunteering really helped me to develop my confidence and to get used to meeting new people.”

When asked what he loves most about his new role, Gareth said: “I love working in a team that supports one another.”

He has worked within the team for six months now, organising linen and ensuring it is ready to be sent to the hospitals and community venues managed by the Trust.

Assistant facilities manager Sally Stephenson said: “Gareth very soon became part of our facilities team.

“He is a wonderful person – he is so well mannered, always polite and does excellent in his role in linen services.”

Volunteer with us

Trust volunteers carry out a variety of duties, from driving patients to hospital and collecting prescriptions to offering emotional support and a friendly face to both patients and staff.

Taking on a number of different roles, they are highly valued throughout the Trust.

To find out more about volunteering at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, call 01642 383933 or email nth-tr.volunteersnth@nhs.net

More information is also available on our volunteer page.

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