As a Volunteer at the hospital, the role is very much about being of use where the hospital needs you – and with so many restrictions in place with the COVID-19 emergency, it’s at times like that you realise just how invaluable a volunteer can be to assist in the smooth running of the hospital.
Volunteer tasks can include anything from assisting people who are no longer allowed to visit loved ones in hospital as they drop off personal belongings, to helping sort through gifts of donations of food, treats, and toiletries given by people wanting to show their affection for the NHS and support those on the front line.
Friday afternoons have been the busiest shifts for me. It usually involves looking ahead over the weekend to make sure the staff will be catered for with food and drinks. The volunteer team wheel the trolleys around the hospital grounds – to various fridges and points where the food and drinks are stored – and load up with an array of refreshments to deliver throughout the hospital.
Volunteers vary in age – from students through to retired professionals – but the one thing we all have in common is the desire to be of use and to give back. I can certainly say that no volunteer, regardless of their ‘day job’, ever feels any tasks in the hospital is beneath them. In fact it is a privilege to be allowed to assist the hospital at this time and interact with staff – as you lay out food and top up supplies – knowing you might have helped by giving a pressured staff member one less thing to have to think about.
And to hear the appreciation, the thanks and see the smiles from the staff; the doctors, nurses, porters, admin staff to security and cleaners, is more than enough reassurance that in some small way the volunteers are invaluable in helping with the running of Watford General Hospital, especially during this pandemic.
Behind the scenes are of course the Volunteer Managers, at The Volunteer Hub, juggling numerous requests and tasks. Returning to HQ at the end of a shift, they greet you with a smile, offer support accompanied with friendly banter. They remind us just how grateful they and the hospital are for our time, and even the occasional thank you gift!
Being part of the volunteer team is truly an honour – I may be pushing trolleys of water and snacks or packing laundry bags for staff scrubs, but whatever the task, volunteering and being part of the hospital leaves me with a sense of achievement and satisfaction.