Celebrating our Volunteers

In celebration of the fantastic work our Volunteers do, the Voluntary Services team showcased their contribution to staff and patients during Volunteers’ Week. Three Volunteers, Barbara, Vida and Marion, spoke about what they do with Jules Alderson, Workforce Transformation Volunteering Programme Manager at Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB), who shares her thoughts.

“I was struck by the energy and compassion each of the ladies brought to their volunteering and by the end of the conversation I was looking forward to my retirement so that I could join their lovely team!

“All three ladies started volunteering after they had taken retirement, with two of the coming back to the NNUH having worked there.

“Barbara, a reception meet and greet volunteer, said: she loves NNUH, so when she retired, she wanted to carry on that feeling of belonging.

“Marion, a discharge suite volunteer had worked for NNUH for 20 years and found herself looking for something more to do after retirement. She said that after just six months she thought of the ‘red waistcoat people”. She wanted to do something socially and do something outside of home.

“Vida, who is a Discharge Suite and Therapeutic Massage volunteer said her motivation to volunteer was rather different. She started volunteering because she had a medical phobia and wanted to overcome that. She likes meeting people from different walks of life and has always worked with people and just wanted to carry on.

“Both Barbara and Marion started as Butterfly volunteers, who provide support to patients at end of life. Activities that Butterflies might do include sitting quietly with a patient in their last days or hours, reading to them or holding their hand.

“Barbara says of her time as a Butterfly volunteer: ‘it was interesting to hear the relatives of the person who was dying. I felt they always used to love the chance to talk about how ‘he used to do this and how he used to do that’ and it gave the family a chance to offload. They might want to show photos… ‘this was my mum two weeks ago.’ I got a lot out of helping the relatives and those patients who were at the end of their life.’

“Marion believes that Butterfly volunteers play a vital role for those individuals who do not have family able to visit them in their final days. She said: “It’s just doing those lovely things that we’d all want. In our society, families are so spread these days it’s not always possible for family members to actually be there with their loved ones while they are dying and so it was just a beautiful role that came along.’

“For Vida, her role as a massage volunteer enables her to provide a ‘human touch’ that patients may be missing during their stay on the wards. Vida explained that her role is so significant because ‘the interaction is about the person and not the reason that they are there. It is really important to remember how you might be as the person doing the hand massage, the only person who is touching the patient and talking to them as a person, and not as a medic or physio.’

“Each of the ladies expressed that it isn’t just the patients and their families who benefit from the work of the NNUH volunteers, the volunteers themselves each have reasons to keep them coming back. Vida enjoys the opportunities to acquire new skills within her volunteering.

“Marion added: ‘a lady came up to a reception the other day to say thank you, it’s not why we do it, but you know you have helped someone, so it is nice to hear. Knowing that you have made a difference keeps me coming back.’

“For Barbara, the big appeal for her has been the social side of volunteering. She said: ‘We meet up for a coffee before we see patients. I’ve made a lot of friends, we call ourselves ‘the ladies who do’ so that we can talk and not just about volunteering.’”