1 June 2020
They are the unsung heroes who give up their spare time to work behind the scenes to help support staff, patients and visitors at Shropshire’s two acute hospitals.
And all this week, the spotlight will be shining on the army of volunteers who help at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Telford.
Across both hospital sites there are more than 700 volunteers; and they are complemented by over 300 volunteers who support the League of Friends of RSH and Friends of PRH.
Volunteers range from students looking to gain experience in the NHS for future careers, to those who have retired and are looking for a way to give something back.
The Trust has volunteers in most wards and departments at both hospitals – these include ward helpers, mealtime buddies, meet and greeters, hostesses, dementia volunteers, end of life care volunteers, lab volunteers and many more.
The unstinting support from volunteers has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the Trust’s Volunteers’ Office received an overwhelming response from people wanting to help. These are people who have volunteered to support in roles such as: portering assistants, administrative support, catering assistants, pharmacy runners, cleanliness assistants and PPE mask fit testers.
SaTH, which runs both hospitals, is this week celebrating its hundreds of volunteers during National Volunteers Week, which runs until 7 June.
Poppy Horrocks, Response Volunteer Lead at SaTH, said: “Due to COVID-19, we are unable to host our annual Volunteer Thank You event, so instead we are taking to social media to celebrate the time and commitment our wonderful volunteers give to our hospitals.
“We have a series of social media posts planned for the week, and a very special thank you to all of our volunteers will also be shared in a video made by our staff and volunteer team.”
Julia Clarke, Director of Corporate Services at SaTH, said: “The support that we receive from our volunteers is just wonderful and we are so lucky to have such commitment from them.
“They really do make a huge difference in our hospitals, supporting our staff and helping our patients – and we could not do without them. I would like to send a huge thank you to everyone who volunteers to help in their spare time in our hospitals, we are so grateful for everything that they do for us.”
There are a number of ways to volunteer at SaTH:
Volunteer 18 years and over
- Volunteers on this scheme are able to volunteer in most areas of the Trust including wards, administration areas and outpatients.
Young Volunteer Scheme (16-18 year olds)
- The Young Volunteer Scheme for anyone aged 16-18 years old is very popular with students looking for a career in the NHS. This volunteer placement in a clinical setting provides young volunteers with the valuable insight and experience required for academic or professional applications.
Corporate Volunteer Scheme
- The support of local businesses makes a real difference – and SaTH offers volunteering days for local businesses which will support a hospital project.
Making a Difference Days
- This volunteer scheme is open to individuals who would like to give their time but cannot commit to a regular volunteer placement. Throughout the year the Trust holds ‘Making a Difference Days’ in which individuals can volunteer their time to a specific project, like gardening.
Staff Volunteer Scheme
- Staff can apply to volunteer in a different area to their paid role within the organisation. This scheme is a fantastic opportunity for staff to gain skills and insight into a different department within the hospital.
- Response Volunteers are assigned to a hospital rather than a specific ward or department. These volunteers carry a mobile phone, which means staff can contact them from across the hospital to help where it is most needed. They are able to do a wide variety of tasks including collecting prescriptions from pharmacy, supporting patients with food and drink, signposting, spending time with patients and much more.
Meet some of our volunteers
For some, a volunteer role can also be a stepping stone to other work opportunities. Jenna Coxhill volunteered for the Trust at the end of 2019 on the Postnatal Ward, and has since been offered a permanent role.
Jenna said: “I enjoyed every moment of my volunteer role. I was made to feel so welcome by the Postnatal team. My experience has undoubtedly lead to me being offered a permanent job. It’s great to be able to support new mums, the staff and other volunteers on ward 21.”
The Trust also has three generations of the same family working in the Trust, either as volunteers or with volunteers.
Pat Dodsworth volunteers at the Hamar Centre. She said: “My role is to help the Centre administrator with the day to day running. I make beverages, talk to the clients and try to make them feel as comfortable as possible before they see a counsellor. I love talking to people and meeting new people so this role is perfect for me and on a personal level, I feel like I am giving something back to the centre as my husband was treated at the hospital. I walk away with a smile on my face knowing I have hopefully, made people feel at ease.”
Pat’s daughter, Nicola Crawford, also volunteers and said: “I have been helping in the SaTH Charity office, distributing all the wonderful donations around the Trust to staff. Whilst I have been in doing this, I have enjoyed chatting to members of staff and hopefully putting a smile on their faces with their donations. I have been overwhelmed by the positivity of everyone I have met and it’s made this role so enjoyable. I could not have thought of a better way to spend my spare time during this lockdown and to feel like I am doing my bit for the hospitals.”
Pat’s granddaughter and Nicola’s daughter, Rachel Higgins, works in the Trust as a Volunteer Co-Ordinator. She said: “I feel a great sense of pride as our volunteers make such a difference to our patients, staff and visitors. I know the work I do contributes ultimately to our patients’ experiences.”
If you are interested in volunteering at SaTH in the future, please get in touch with the Volunteer Office on 01743 492256, 01743 261118 or email email@example.com.