We’re celebrating the work of our highly valued volunteers during Volunteers’ Week.
Over the last year, almost 300 Trust volunteers gave up their time on a regular basis. At both the University Hospital of North Tees and University Hospital of Hartlepool.
The volunteers carry out a variety of duties. Including driving patients to and from hospital, collecting prescriptions, welcoming and guiding patients to their appointments. And offering emotional support and even just providing a friendly face and a chat if needed.
One such volunteer is Karen Oliver.
Karen Oliver, Volunteer
Karen shares why she loves volunteering at the Trust
Hi, my name is Karen. I’m a volunteer here at the Trust. I actually, my role involves patients, interactive with them, supporting the clinical staff on the wards.
I very much recommend the role to anybody looking to get involved – it’s really rewarding.
A volunteer since September 2019. Karen supports the Trust as a Clinical Volunteer on the gastroenterology ward. She assists the ward hosts at meal times, relays messages from patients to staff and has been trained to help feed patients if needed.
An agency primary school teacher, Karen spent 14 years teaching around the world including Thailand, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan. Before returning home to Teesside.
Karen, 51, from Yarm, said: “I’ve wanted to become an NHS volunteer for several years and I expected to embark on this when I eventually retired from full-time work.
“The NHS has always been there at times of need for myself and my family over the years. I just wanted to give something back to my local hospital as a way of thanking them for their wonderful care.
“The opportunity to pursue volunteering came earlier than expected and responded to the ‘Helpforce’ campaign via the Daily Mail in December 2018 by pledging time to volunteer. I was delighted to be matched up with volunteering opportunities at North Tees Hospital.
“The volunteering experience for me has been so positive and rewarding. From the quality of the induction and training opportunities. To meeting people from a range of backgrounds with a common purpose of wanting to give something back.
“As an NHS Clinical Volunteer I have the privilege of being welcomed onto a ward and feel valued and appreciated. Especially when staff discover I’m balancing this with working full time.
“I have never been in doubt of the tremendous work that goes on within the hospital. But gaining hands-on experience has made me appreciate the dedication and hard work of the whole team. To ensure patients receive the very best care.
“I gain a great deal of satisfaction by helping others and, when interacting with the patients, my aim is to lift their spirits in any way I can and give them that little bit of extra time and attention.”
Karen has kept on volunteering throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She commented: “The Coronavirus has certainly impacted on all aspects of our lives and, when
I was no longer able to continue working, I was still keen to continue volunteering my time.
“I was rather apprehensive at first at the prospect of putting myself at extra risk of catching and transmitting the virus. However, the volunteers have continued to receive excellent communication and support and this has made me feel more confident.”
Karen is backing the Trust’s appeal for more volunteers to come forward and volunteer. She continued: “There are never two days the same but one thing is for sure; we’re in this together and working alongside like-minded people gives you the strength and positivity to deal with any challenge. That’s why I love to wear the ‘Happy to help’ badge!”
Lindsay Rutherford-Hoe, Volunteer Support Officer, said: “People like Karen make a huge difference to our patients.
“They’re part of the fabric of the Trust, performing some really important tasks.
“Our volunteers even play a vital role in improving bed turnover by taking patients home who would otherwise be waiting in hospital for medication and then returning later on with their medicine.
“It’s a rewarding role and we can be very flexible with when they work.
“Of course, none of our volunteers are being asked to work on wards where patients with COVID-19 are being treated. But we have plenty of other tasks they can get stuck into!”
The Trust is also issuing mini-profiles of volunteers every day of Volunteers’ Week on its social media channels about what they find most satisfying about their work.