I am a Volunteer
Simon’s Smiles lead to Smackdown Success
Volunteer Simon Dixon’s friendly greeting to visitors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has led him into a paid job.
For the past two years he has spent his Thursdays wandering the hospital corridors offering help and guidance to visitors who are not sure where to go.
It was when he was unemployed that someone suggested he try volunteering at the hospital and he hasn’t looked back. Simon explained that he had been looked after by the hospital when he was a patient and he wanted to give something back.
“People are very grateful and I am making a difference. You have got to be happy and nice and polite and talk about different things. And it keeps you fit walking about,” he added.
It’s a far cry from the work Simon had in the 80s as a professional wrestler. He spent 10 years touring the country as Johnny Silver and Dr Bones.
Voluntary Services Manager Sally Knights said that a nursing sister on Gissing ward spotted how helpful Simon was around the hospital and when he visited her ward. So she asked if he could work on her general surgery ward.”He was head hunted,” smiled Sally.
So, Simon,52, became a volunteer housekeeper on Gissing over the past year, a job which he has “really enjoyed”.
Then came the chance to apply for work as a paid for weekend housekeeper and after applying and being interviewed he starts the work this week.
His message to anyone thinking of volunteering is “Take the job on, you will enjoy it. Doing this has changed my life, its given me confidence. I recommend volunteering here.”
He loves it so much that although he will be paid to work weekends you will still find his smiling face offering help on Thursdays.
Radiographer Returns as Volunteer
When Lindy Button became disabled she had to give up her job as a radiographer at Norfolk’s largest hospital. But, for the past five years she has been back helping patients in the Eye Clinic and carrying out satisfaction surveys.
“After I left I missed the hospital and when I was up here one day someone I used to work with suggested I volunteer here.”
Lindy, from Norwich, travels around the hospital on her motorised scooter and now volunteers three days a week. She greets people as they arrive at the Eye Clinic and offers them help if they need it.
She also takes satisfaction surveys from inpatients who are about to leave the hospital.
People often ask her about volunteering and she is happy to talk to them and recommend it. “I love it, you get so much more than money, you get the satisfaction of helping people.”
Receptionist Anne Eases Anxiety
Anxious out patients visiting hospital are soon put at ease when they are greeted by Anne Hawkins on the busy East Reception desk at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
When Anne retired as a primary school teacher 14 years ago she wanted “something routine and useful” and spotted an advert for volunteers at the newly opened hospital.
She began as a Meet and Greet volunteer walking the corridors directing and helping people find their destinations. Then she moved on to Fridays on the East outpatient desk and she loves it.
“I hope I make a difference. We can take away some of the worry when people have forgotten their letter or are not sure where to go. We do get hassle sometimes but that’s just because of anxiety.”
Sometimes she has been able to put someone in a wheelchair and take them to their destination or she took a very worried patient to the chapel. The desk is also the first point of call when someone falls over outside and they are able to quickly summon the right staff.
Anne’s advice to anyone who is thinking of volunteering is to “definitely go for it! Have a chat with the volunteering office, there are so many aspects to it here and you can get so much satisfaction out of it.”
Jo Makes a Difference
Jo Barber already works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and she recently noticed an advert for volunteers for the settle in service and thought it would be something she would enjoy.
Jo is PA to Jeremy Over the Director of Workforce at the NNUH, and has been a settle in volunteer for the past couple of months and regularly covers the area where she lives. “I saw the role advertised at work and thought why not give it a try as it means I can give something back”.
‘Settle-in’ volunteers meet patients as they return home and carry out some simple checks around the house. They can also arrange for patients to be helped or referred to other services where necessary including the Red Cross Support at Home service.
Jo lives in the Acle area and agreed to cover Winteron, Hembsy and Acle as well as areas close to the hospital after work. “It is not a lot for me to do but it means a great deal to people I help settle in. The patients are so grateful for the tasks we are able to do for them and it makes it all worthwhile”.
Jo says she is thoroughly enjoying her first volunteering role and finds it particularly rewarding when she helps the elderly who are often living on their own. “It seems a small task like making a bed, doing the washing up or buying some food, but for them to have that pressure taken away its one less thing to worry about.”