6 March 2024

Volunteer to Career Programme presentation evening

Sixteen aspiring healthcare individuals have received recognition for completing the Volunteer to Career (VtC) Programme in midwifery at the Trust, which runs the county’s two acute hospitals.

Volunteers on the most recent midwifery programme have collectively accumulated over 1,000 hours of volunteering on the antenatal and postnatal wards within The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).

This has allowed them to experience what life is like in the clinical setting of Maternity Services whilst offering additional support for patients and staff.

Additionally, they have attended a programme of evening sessions designed to covering several topics enhancing their insight into the career and offering invaluable support for interviews and job applications; a simulation of a birth, the importance of difficult conversations, how to approach a values-based interview, and an evening gaining knowledge and insight from some of our existing midwives – all giving a greater insight into the career they are exploring.

To celebrate the success of the VtC programme, a presentation evening was held with talks from volunteers, certificates handed out and speeches.

The programme was developed by SaTH with the support and funding from Helpforce – a national UK Charity created to improve the lives of healthcare staff, patients and our communities through the power of volunteering.

Helpforce selected SaTH as one of a handful of hospitals to participate in the VtC programme and each programme is designed to identify the workforce needs of the organisation.

The VtC programme provides an exceptional chance for individuals of all ages to gets hands-on experience before committing to a job or applying for further education. It is particularly helpful to anyone who might be considering a career in the NHS but might have some trepidation about making the jump from an existing career.

Julia Clarke, Director of Public Participation, said: “Volunteering has always been a valuable pathway for our volunteers to advance their careers within the NHS, and the VtC programme supports that even further through an experiential and developmental approach.

“We have had great success in the first two cohorts of the programme and the candidates are a talented, compassionate pool of potential employees, with a solid understanding of how things work in practice.

“Of the 16 individuals on cohort 2 of the programme, a third have secured places at university studying midwifery, and the others have already gained employment within the Trust or are applying for roles.”

Nigel Lee, Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships, said: “Volunteers are incredibly important to our hospitals and it is a delight when their support can be used to carve out a life-long career within the NHS.

“What makes the programme so special is the additional support and guidance it offers to our volunteers. The programme offers our volunteers placements to gain experience and training sessions with clinical leads to develop their skills and knowledge. We are delighted to be offering this at our Trust and look forward to watching the programme grow and expand over the coming years.”

Hayley Flavell, Director of Nursing, said: “The programme has been instrumental in connecting our hospitals with our local communities by attracting people from all walks of life to the programme. They undertake valuable volunteering roles, whilst accessing a clinically led career pathway that has been designed to enable VtC volunteers to make the decision to embark on a career in becoming a midwife or pursue employment in other roles here at our hospitals.

“This is exactly the type of new innovation we have been looking for to help meet our workforce needs and with the ‘try before you buy’ approach is proving to be very effective with 73% of volunteers who completed the pathway securing employment or embarking on further education or training.”

The Trust is now recruiting to their first cohort for Radiotherapy. A Therapeutic Radiographer is an allied health professional (AHP) who has undergone specific training to be able to deliver radiotherapy for patients undergoing treatment for cancer. This programme will give volunteers a great insight into this profession. The Trust is holding an online event to find out more on Thursday 21 March 2024 6pm-7pm – Volunteer to Career Programme – SaTH

Case studies

Lizzie Wheatley

Lizzie, aged 27, said: “I live in Shropshire with my fiancé, five-year-old son and our labrador puppy. Before having Oscar, I worked as a qualified hairdresser but becoming a mother made me want to change my career.

Lizzie Wheatley “I applied for university last year and despite hitting all the grades I needed in my access course; I was declined due to lack of experience in a clinical setting. So, when I applied this year, I made sure I had the hands-on experience (thanks to Volunteer to Career) and got accepted!

“Volunteer to Career has helped me understand what universities are looking for and it has helped me be part of a community here at SaTH, providing support to the patients, visitors, and staff, which gave me a lot to talk about at my university interview.

“I start at Staffordshire University in September, and three years on I will be a midwife, dreams really do come true. As I live in Shropshire, I hope to return to SaTH once I’m a qualified midwife. I am forever grateful for the experience the programme has given me and I would 100% recommend it others, it is the perfect opportunity to explore a sector before taking the leap into a new career.

Charlotte Newby

She said: “I have now been studying at Staffordshire University for the past three months doing a midwifery Charlotte Newbydegree. I am loving it! I would like to thank you for the opportunity I had on the Volunteer to Career programme as I know this strengthened my application for university. Not to mention the experience to work on the postnatal unit before deciding on this career path.

“I’m doing my midwifery placements with SaTH at the Princess Royal Hospital, a far cry from my old career as a kitchen designer. I am very passionate about this career and would gladly share my experience on the Volunteer to Carer programme with others.”

Bailey Thompson, pictured with Nigel Lee

She said: “My name is Bailey and I am a future midwife. I moved to the UK in 2017 and worked for years in recruitment, but my heart was really never in it and in June of 2021 I had my first child – I thought it would be such an interesting job to be a midwife.

Bailey Thompson“New motherhood and promise of a promotion got the better of me, however, and I pushed that feeling away and forgot about it. Then I had my second child- and during the chaos of her early arrival and the subsequent seven weeks she spent on neonatal I started to remember why I thought midwifery was such an interesting job, and that feeling of intuition that I had pushed away two years before was coming back.

“Then one day when walking through the Princess Royal Hospital to visit my girl in neonatal I noticed a sign saying ‘Volunteer to Career midwifery’ and it felt like it was put there specifically for me to see, letting me know this was my chance. I got in touch that very same day and by October my baby was home and I was spending 4-8 hours a week on post and antenatal at Princess Royal Hospital.

“This programme was the best thing that I could have found – it allowed me to gain insight into the role of a midwife beyond being a patient, it allowed me to become a part of the team at my local Trust and helped open my eyes to what an amazing and challenging field it would be.  I was unsure about applying for the midwifery programme and every single midwife, maternity support worker, and women support worker stood by me and cheered me on, supporting my dream in a way I didn’t know was even possible.

“It’s thanks to this programme that at 35 I have found the courage to  restart my career and go back to school, as I have been accepted for the midwifery programme starting in September 2024 and hope to do my placement with SaTH.

“Programmes like VtC can change lives and help people realise dreams that they didn’t even know they had. I’m so lucky for everything that led me to this place in my life and feel so fortunate to have had the volunteer team behind me every step of the way.”