Those reaching the landmark milestones of five, 10, 15, 20 and even 25 years’ voluntary service were congratulated at a series of afternoon tea events across United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT).
The now annual events also coincided with ULHT’s seven day celebration of national Volunteers’ Week, a chance to recognise and say ‘thanks’ to its dedicated troop of regular helpers.
Ceremonies were held across the Trust’s three main hospital sites in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham for 26 long service award recipients with a combined total of 285 years’ service being celebrated across the week.
ULHT’s Voluntary Services Manager, Andrew Tysoe said: “We have around 300 volunteers across our hospitals at the moment and our current group have served an amazing total of 1,392 years which would take us back to 626AD – before the Vikings!
“Over 80 of our volunteers have now done more than five years with the Trust and our longest serving has now done a remarkable 33 years.
“Volunteering is good for you, some of our corridor guides can walk up to four miles a day escorting patients and visitors and it can also help reduce loneliness and help with people’s social interaction.”
At Grantham hospital, volunteer Elizabeth Littlewood picked up her 20 year service award. Elizabeth, a former teacher, helps out in the hospital’s pharmacy department and said: “I enjoy meeting people and staff here are very supportive and welcoming.
“I’m a bit like a coordinator between the patients and the staff and if someone comes in with a problem I can try to help them out.”
Over at Lincoln County Hospital, Jan Prime has been volunteering on the stroke unit for 10 years.
“It’s quite challenging and you have to your wits about you,” said Jan.
“But it’s really nice being able to help all the patients and see them go home after their treatment.”
Finally, over at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, the Trust’s volunteer of the year Nigel Brasier added: “Volunteering is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It’s the little things like talking, listening and just being there for people which helps patients and staff during such challenging times for the NHS.”
As part of the Trust’s current 2021 strategy, plans are in place to try and recruit up to 1000 volunteers over the next three years.
ULHT volunteers currently put in around 4000 hours per month, with more than 200,000 positive interactions with patients and families taking place each year. This equates to five years’ average service for each volunteer.
Volunteering roles range from ward based activities including befriending, making teas and coffees, taking part in activities and telephone answering, to various administration roles and ‘meet and greet’ corridor guide sessions.
Anyone with half-a-day per week or more to spare who is interested in becoming a ULHT volunteer at any of the hospitals, can call 01522 597838 or visit www.ulh.nhs.uk/jobs/volunteering/ to find out more.