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Focus on team of volunteers who help Great Western Hospital run smoothly
WHETHER it is making cups of tea, offering a listening ear or helping visitors find their way, the volunteers at the Great Western Hospital play a crucial role in making a visit to the hospital as pleasant as possible.
The GWH has 553 volunteers a present, including 376 general volunteers, 116 WRVS volunteers, 22 hospital radio volunteers and 19 Friends of Savernake Hospital and Community.
On average, Trust volunteers give 2,330 hours per month of their time free of charge.
Eighty per cent of the volunteers are female, while four per cent are over the age of 80, but the majority are between 61 and 80.
Ann Barnes, 78, of Ashton Keynes, is one of the 43 per cent that make up this category.
She has been volunteering ever since her husband passed away 19 years ago, and currently volunteers two days a week.
“I really enjoy it. After my husband died it was a focus,” she said.
“I’ve always been people orientated. I started off at Princess Margaret Hospital and we were sent over before the GWH opened, which was quite exciting.
“We needed to get to know the place before it officially opened and it was good fun with all the workmen around.”
While volunteering at the PMH, Ann helped run the information point, but is now one of several Wayfinders at the GWH.
She said: “As Wayfinders, we try to take a lot of work off the front desk, helping people find where they need to go in the hospital and just generally being here for people and reassuring them.”
Peter Long, 76, of Rodbourne Cheney, became a Wayfinder at the GWH when he retired from the engineering trade five years ago.
“When I retired I had free time,” he said. “I’d always had incredible service in the hospital for my family and I just felt it was the right time for me to come and do a bit of voluntary work to help out.
“I enjoy meeting all the people that come through the front doors. Obviously there’s a lot of people coming in to the hospital that have had bad news or are getting bad news and we have to be careful how we deal with them, you have to be sensitive but at the same time, it is good if you can do it with a smile on your face.”
Sue Harvey, 67, of Stratton, worked in accounts before retiring and joining the volunteering team at GWH.
She now gives up three hours a week to make a visit to the Day Therapy Ward a bit more comfortable for patients.
She said: “I have volunteered all over the hospital, but it is nice in here, I just spend time chatting to people – sometimes it is the first time they’ve ever been in and it is a bit worrying so we have a little chat and I make the teas and coffees.
“It’s nice to get out and help people, you don’t have to do it for too long, but it is good to make people laugh when they aren’t feeling good.
“I never thought I would do something like this, it’s a bit daunting at first, I didn’t know what to talk to people about, you don’t want to put your foot in it but you have to think before you say anything. I’d recommend it to anyone, there are so many different jobs to choose from.”
Recently, the Voluntary Services Long Service Awards were held at the GWH to honour those who have given their time to help out across the Trust over several years.
Presentations were made to those who had notched up five, 10 , 15 and 20 years of service.
Oonagh Fitzgerald, Director of Workforce and Education at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our volunteers, whether at GWH or out in the community hospitals, provide an invaluable service to the Trust supporting staff and helping patients and visitors.
“We have a diverse range of volunteers from students to the retired, all giving up their free time to help us. “
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact the Voluntary Services Team. For Great Western Hospital and Savernake Hospital voluntary opportunities contact Carol Orrow, Voluntary Services Manager, at carol.orrow@-gwh.nhs.uk or Vickie Hayes, Voluntary Services Administra-tor, at victoria.hayes@gwh .nhs.uk or call on 01793 60 5247/8.
For Wiltshire Community based voluntary opportunities contact Suzanne Bennett, Voluntary Services Coordinator at email@example.com or call 01985 220779.
Roll of Honour
Five years’ service: Mick Blunsdon, Peter Day, Maureen Evans, Pam Hawkes, Salah Hayek, Brigid Houghton, John Monniot, Janet Mutter, Nicola Newport
10 years: Betty Spence, John Williams, Ann Hart-Ives, Ruth Palmer, Elena Rossi, Anthea Thackstone, Con Wells, Elaine White, Maggy Whittaker, Jenny Yallop
15 years: Michael Walsh
20 years: John Sisson
The facts and figures
The GWH currently has 553 volunteers
- 376 Trust volunteers
- 116 WRVS volunteers
- 22 Hospital radio volunteers
- 20 British Red Cross volunteers
- 19 Friends of Savernake Hospital & Community.
The total number of hours volunteered by Trust volunteers during the first quarter of 2012/13 (i.e. April, May, June) was 6,615 – that’s an average of 2,205 hours a month, or 508 hours per week (the equivalent of having an extra 14 full time employees).