The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the amazing work of our nurses, doctors, pathologists, pharmacists, porters, cleaners and countless other staff as never before.
Now as many young people are finishing school or college and looking to their futures, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is asking them to consider a career in the NHS.
The Trust currently has almost 400 dedicated volunteers in various roles which young adults are encouraged to take up during the summer holidays to gain invaluable work experience for their future.
Sarah Barker and Kieran Gill are just two of a rising number of young clinical volunteers who are eager to become the NHS workforce of the future.
17-year-old college student Sarah has aspirations to become a surgeon. She travels from her home in Redcar to the University Hospital of North Tees every Saturday in a patient-facing role to gain some vital work experience.
Sarah said: “Through volunteering at the Trust I’ve learned a lot about how to approach and communicate with people who have health issues and how you deal with that under pressure.
“It really outlines which skills you need for a future in the NHS so that I can focus on developing those now ready for my degree and my career in surgery.”
For Sarah, the role has many more perks than gaining work experience.
She continued: “I really love talking to the patients. They have a lot of stories they want to share with us about their life – their jobs, their travels, even stories about being in the war. It’s interesting to see how people deal with being in hospital and how driven they are to get better.”
While there are many different roles available at the Trust, the role of a clinical volunteer helps to support patients on wards with anything non-medical.
17-year-old Kieran Gill from Ingleby Barwick, carries out various tasks. He makes cups of tea or coffee for patients, helps out at meal times and runs small errands such as buying their daily newspaper from the shop.
He said: “Being in hospital can be very lonely and distressing so I feel privileged to spend time with patients, put a smile on their faces and improve their stay in whatever way I can.”
Kieran is still a college student but is already looking into universities and applications for his medical degree.
He continued: “I think volunteering has been the single most valuable thing I have ever done.
“It can be quite daunting developing those patient-facing skills but my role is very active and hands-on so I’ve really learned a lot about how to talk to patients.”
Earlier in the year, a group of volunteers at the Trust gained full time employment as they took up new roles as team support workers.
Now North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is asking young people to consider taking up a voluntary role to gain experience for their future.
The Trust offers a variety of volunteer roles, including drivers, greeting visitors and supporting patients with non-medical activities on the wards.
“Volunteering is a brilliant way to see first-hand what it’s like working in a health care environment, to find out about the different roles available and understand what it takes to be an NHS colleague.
“At its core, the NHS is about caring for people – something our volunteers are demonstrating every day. That care and consideration they give to our patients is something they will carry on as they qualify and begin working in the NHS in the coming years.”
The Trust’s appeal for more volunteers comes after an open letter from NHS England health bosses that asked young people to look to their future and consider a career in health care.
In their letter, chief nursing officer Ruth May and NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis write: “We are asking young people wondering what path to take, and anyone thinking about a career change, to consider joining us.
“There are more than 350 different roles on offer and whichever one you pick – while we cannot promise it will always be easy – it will be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make.”