Have you wondered what it’s like to volunteer at ESHT? Read the experiences of some of our volunteers below.
Beth has enrolled on a Access to Higher Education in Nursing and Healthcare course and is going to university to study Midwifery in September.
Before Bethany started volunteering, she’d had no previous healthcare experience. “I wanted to understand healthcare better to work with people and gain more experience and help with getting into university.” Bethany supported our Discharge Check Service; calling people to see how they were doing following their discharge from Hospital.
Bethany was supervised by a Clinical Staff lead, who she found “wonderful to work with’’ and “helped my self-confidence grow.’’
‘’Everyone is so different and has such different needs, but I learned how to read people and build up rapport. I also realised I didn’t have to know everything and that it’s ok to be unsure of something and learn more about the support available in local community.’’
She found that some people had questions that weren’t specifically medical but that they didn’t know who to turn to and she was able to let them know about resources they hadn’t previously been aware of. Others were very grateful to have someone to talk their worries through with, leaving them relieved and satisfied by the end of the conversation. Any minor medical queries, were supported by the clinical lead or Bethany could refer them to call their own GP.
From a personal point of view, Bethany is so glad she volunteered. She knows that it helped a lot during her interview to gain a place at university to study midwifery.
“I could answer their questions about how to treat patients, how to respond to different needs and how to reassure them from a place of experience. You can read books, you can ask people who work in hospitals about it, but you have to have the experience yourself to really know, and it’s one that you won’t find anywhere else.”
Charlotte is a university student studying a MA course in Exercise Physiology
Charlotte did everything she could as a child to avoid hospitals, so although her aim now is to work as a Respiratory Physiologist, the prospect of being in a hospital setting wasn’t exactly her ideal! However, volunteering has completely changed her mind. “It wasn’t so much about what I did but about having an experience of being in a hospital environment, and volunteering gave me a good way of getting that. I’m now definitely sure that I’d love to work in a hospital!”
She has spent the past 4 months volunteering on a frailty ward one day a week and has learned how a hospital works, including how a ward is run and all the acronyms used in documentation; transferable knowledge that will be helpful in future NHS job applications.
Charlotte recommends volunteering: “It’s not a lot of hours out of your time, and your input takes the pressure of staff and supports patients, in tasks which can take up time; volunteering opens doors if you want to work for the NHS and it’s such a great thing to do. Everyone is so nice; it’s a caring setting and you feel part of that.”
Charlotte is delighted that she has a job interview with the Trust and believes that her volunteer role has really supported her to increase her knowledge and self-confidence working in a hospital setting.
Lewis is about to take his A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths.
For Lewis, volunteering has anchored his dreams of becoming a doctor one day. He wanted to work in a hospital to see if he enjoyed it and found that the atmosphere of being part of a team and ‘making a real difference in peoples’ lives have really motivated him. He is planning to do further volunteering in A&E as soon as his exams are over, as well as pursuing his career as a doctor at university.
“Even just doing one shift a week, while working for my exams, has given me more social confidence, more energy and improved my mood” says Lewis. Volunteering in the Vaccination Hub at the Conquest Hospital, he found the set up safe and well organised. He especially enjoyed working at the point where people arrive “hopefully helping to calm those who were anxious.” On various occasions, especially in the early days when things got very busy in the vaccination hub, he found he had to think on his feet to manage the queues and social distancing; a challenge he enjoyed finding himself able to meet.
Getting out has helped him energetically and psychologically; meeting different people of all ages, professions and ethnic background and life experiences. Being able to socialise while studying and through the lockdown has been a big support. He also gained useful information from chatting to a couple of doctors and seeing parallels between their motivation and his own, which have supported him to feel on the right track in his life.
Lewis would encourage anyone to volunteer. ”I really enjoyed it and it has been very motivating.”
Megan is at college and hoping to apply for a midwifery course at university.
Megan has been volunteering for the past 2 -3 months, taking calls and observing while sitting with the clerk on Seaford Ward at Eastbourne Hospital.
“I love it. I’ve wanted to work for the NHS for a few years. It’s given me more experience and insight and made me want to work for the NHS even more.”
Megan decided to work as a volunteer before applying to go to university so that she could be sure in herself and demonstrate too her interest in pursuing a career in the NHS. It has really paid off. She has gained insight into how other departments do their jobs, and it has helped her to decide on midwifery as the next step on her journey. Right from the start, the ward clerk has been very busy and so having Megan’s help has been rewarding and supportive for both of them.
Tobias is studying International History and Politics at university.
Toby has very much enjoyed volunteering; “a really nice way of spending time”. It has also proved a wonderfully grounding and stabilising activity to balance the complexity and challenges of what he has been studying: the Vietnam War and associated war crimes, genocide and ideologies that cause people to hurt and kill others.
Toby started out by volunteering as a gardener for our courtyard at Conquest hospital for about 5 months before moving on to working in the vaccination hub. He made himself available as and when he was needed. In both roles, he has always had good support.
On the gardening side, Toby especially enjoyed the active aspect of doing it, as well as getting on really well with the other volunteer he worked with and the on-site staff.
In the vaccination hub, he enjoyed chatting to lots of different people, and taking on different roles. He was surprised to find he especially enjoyed checking people in on the computers, which he imagined would be boring, however he really liked the people he was doing it with, and it gave him a taste of professionalism too. He has so “enjoyed having others to chat to during lunch breaks; going to the pub now can feel like there’s something missing!”
Working at the sanitation station gave him an insight into the vulnerabilities that some people have to cope with, and has opened his heart even more. Although he’s always respected the rules that keep us safe in these Covid times his experience has deepened his sense of what contributes to a community.
Toby recons that volunteering has stabilised him; He’s sure that he would have felt more socially awkward had he not been volunteering, especially with lockdown. Also the structure of getting out into a different environment and doing different things has complemented the nature of studying and he hopes to build on what he has already done in the future.
Lily is currently a teacher
Lily loved being part of the Voluntary discharge Check team, phoning those who’d recently left hospital to check how they were. It felt valuable work, especially during the pandemic; “a really nice touch, quite often chatting to people who had no one else and were very grateful for the contact”. It was fulfilling as a whole; not just for the chat but also for referring people who were isolated and wanting further support on to other agencies who could help them.
Lily likes being busy, and it felt good doing something like this when you couldn’t do anything else for the 3 months before teaching got organised to meet the changing situation. In all that time, she never had one negative response. Everyone was touched and grateful. She “loved being part of a lovely team”. The Clinical Lead told her how grateful she was to have ‘volunteers doing this invaluable work’.
Lily would recommend volunteering to anyone; “Give it a go! You’ll be surprised by how much you enjoy it, and it gives you a good feeling, doing something for others.”
Nathan is studying Biology and Psychology A levels along with Healthcare and Social care B-tech.
Nathan is forward thinking. He’s in his first year of studying for his A levels with an eye to becoming a paramedic, and started volunteering for the NHS knowing that Universities look for candidates with experience in different areas of healthcare. Starting with 4 months in the Covid-19 Vaccination Hub, he is planning to volunteer in Pharmacy next.
“The four months I spent in the vaccination hub made me want to work in Healthcare and pursue becoming a paramedic. At the same time, volunteering is allowing me to try out other possibilities within the NHS, so I’m keeping an open mind” says Nathan. He appreciates how volunteering in different areas will provide him with a journey through Healthcare to support the choice of which area he eventually decides to specialise in.
When a woman came to the Vaccination Hub who was overwhelmed with anxiety at being vaccinated, everyone worked together to make her more comfortable. Arranging for her to be vaccinated while lying down made all the difference for her.
“It showed me that you can be flexible and change your way of doing things to cater for individual needs.” Nathan has gained communication skills as well as a broader understanding of healthcare needs. He also enjoyed meeting so many different people and learning about the interesting lives and backgrounds of other volunteers and health-workers. “Working and pulling together as a team,” adds Nathan, “we all knew we were making a positive difference.”