This year’s Volunteers’ Week is unavoidably different, with the absence of events and face to face celebrations. With social distancing and lockdown, many volunteers have changed their ways of supporting the NHS.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT), Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) and NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are coming together to thank NHS volunteers for their flexibility and ongoing dedication to their roles.
ULHT’s Voluntary Services Manager Andrew Tysoe explains how vital volunteers are. Andrew said: “Without our terrific troop of volunteers, our hospitals simply could not function as they do.
“Prior to coronavirus, our amazing volunteers dedicated a combined 4,000 hours each month, which equates to more than 200,000 positive interactions with patients and families each year.
“We have also been very fortunate to have additional volunteers who have joined us during lockdown who have been off work or furloughed. Their contribution, and those of all of our volunteers, is invaluable and makes such a difference.
“Volunteer roles in the NHS are extremely varied, from meeting and greeting patients and visitors at our hospitals, to helping serve meals on the wards and supporting staff with non-clinical jobs. Being a volunteer is also good for you and can help reduce loneliness and increase your physical activity.”
LPFT’s Volunteer Coordinator, Jacky Secker said: “Our volunteers play such a vital role in supporting the recovery of our service users, but also helping family members and carers. They are there to offer not only a friendly face and a helping hand; they offer skills, knowledge, advice and experience.
“For us as a mental health and learning disability trust, our volunteers have sometimes been former patients who want to give something back to LPFT, as part of their own journey to recovery after a period of ill health, using their experiences to benefit others. For other volunteers it may be that they just want to help support NHS services, learn new skills or interact with others.”
During the COVID-19 lockdown LPFT volunteer, Helen Ratcliffe, has been supporting mental health service users in and around Skegness, by collecting essential shopping items and creating craft boxes for them to use as therapeutic activities at home.
Helen said: “Volunteering is a wonderful use of my time. I thoroughly enjoy it and it’s great to put something back into the NHS. Using my spare time to support others is really rewarding, especially when you know people really need that help – like now during this pandemic.”
LCHS has been paying tribute to two best friends who volunteered to provide daily deliveries of PPE including gowns, hand gel and gloves to community hospitals and nurses.
Andy, a self-employed property developer and Wayne, a former retained firefighter for 16 years at Sleaford Fire Station, who usually works as an electrician/satellite TV aerial installer. With the coronavirus lockdown, the pair decided they wanted to fill their unexpected spare time with something worthwhile.
Andy said: “My wife works for LCHS and suggested I could volunteer to deliver much needed PPE across the county to hospitals and community nurses.
“I’ve been out and about five days a week with my van packed full of PPE. I’ve been careful to follow the Government guidance and maintain social distancing – ringing people’s door bells and leaving the PPE on the ground outside.”
For more information about volunteering opportunities with your local NHS in Lincolnshire, please visit their websites: www.lpft.nhs.uk, www.lincolnshirecommunityhealthservices.nhs.uk, www.ulh.nhs.uk.