My journey as a NHS volunteer has only just begun, as I’m writing this I’m on my second month volunteering as a part of the lovely team. Normally I work as a long-haul Cabin Crew member and I’ve also got a part-time job in tourism. My schedule has been hectic for years, and I am used to having a busy, social lifestyle. When the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear I got furloughed from both jobs, leaving me with a lot of (very unexpected!) free time.
My landlady works at Watford General Hospital and she told me the Trust was looking for volunteers to help during the pandemic. I didn’t have background experience in volunteering, but I wanted to try it as it would hopefully fill up my days and - more importantly - benefit the patients and the Trust. So I received the application pack and the training and within a few weeks I was on my first shift.
I'm originally from Finland; I’ve lived in the United Kingdom for four years now. During my time here, I’ve been enormously impressed and grateful for the help I’ve received every time I’ve needed to visit a healthcare facility. I found volunteering a good way to give a little bit of that kindness back to NHS, too. During these times, I feel it’s wonderful to give whatever you can in order to keep us all going.
My favourite memory so far is from the A&E department, where I offered tea and coffee for the patients waiting to be seen and treated. I had some lovely chats with the patients there, and they seemed to enjoy that little distraction, as well. It made me happy to notice with how little you can cheer up someone. I also very much enjoyed bringing the donuts that were donated via Raise to various wards and parts of the hospital, as that brought a big smile to everyone’s face!
I have really enjoyed the volunteering experience so far. I also trained for Project Wingman, a volunteering project for furloughed aircrew, too, and helped in the Wingman Lounge at Watford Football Club where NHS staff were welcomed to come in and relax for a little while during the long workdays.
I’m very grateful for the extensive experience I’ve had so far and I would definitely recommend volunteering for everyone. Every day is different and definitely a learning experience. We are very well-looked after, too, and I’m proud to be a small part of the NHS.