This week is Volunteers’ Week at King’s – a great celebration of all of our amazing volunteers and the important work they do. Some of our volunteers tell us what it is that makes volunteering so rewarding.
Over the past five days, we have been celebrating our hard-working team of volunteers that we have at King’s. In the last year alone, 1048 different volunteers racked up an unbelievable 47000+ hours.
Our volunteers do a wonderful job of making patients feel welcome and comfortable, and it is safe to say that the hospital would not be what it is without them. They provide reassurance and kindness for incoming patients who might otherwise feel bewildered and intimidated by the hospital environment.
One such volunteer is Rachel Bowyer. Rachel helps out by providing entertainment system devices or activity packs in every corner of the hospital, but most importantly taking time to sit with patients experiencing distress or isolation. She can be a beacon of stability for patients overwhelmed by their situation or the sometimes hectic pace of the wards.
Rachel says, “It was the experience of the pandemic that motivated me to volunteer – I just wanted to help out the NHS through COVID.
When I started the restrictions were in place and we weren’t allowed on the wards. I used to visit the ward managers with messages from loved ones who couldn’t come and visit, and the ward staff would distribute them safely. I also used to distribute activity packs to help deal with boredom.
Since then, we’ve launched the patient entertainment system, so I’m busy helping patients use those, loaning out the devices, taking them back in to charge.
It gets great feedback and I think it’s really important. Not everyone could afford their own device, so providing them free of charge makes things more equal.
There are devices for children too – it must have been so hard previously when children without their own device had to watch other children on the ward playing.
Now that I’m allowed on the wards, it’s as much about talking with the patients as it is giving them a device. Sometimes I give them the device and then we have a long chat. I’ll find out that a patient lives in Streatham, explain that I used to live there too, and then off we go… I really enjoy it. We’re still addressing boredom and isolation, just in a different way.
Sometimes staff will say to me that a patient seems to be so much brighter when I’ve been, and they’ll ask me to come back. It’s so nice to get that kind of feedback. My supervisors, Roger and Amber, are so supportive and welcoming too. I definitely feel like I’m part of the team.”
There are many different ways to make patients feel relaxed and at ease, and sometimes a therapy dog is the perfect volunteer for the job! Maple can often be seen roaming the wards at King’s with Belinda, providing some much-needed fun and relaxation.
Belinda comments, "It has been very rewarding volunteering with Maple because we are welcomed everywhere we go in the hospital. We feel our presence changes the atmosphere and makes everyone happy!”