Acts of enormous value

Posted on the 4th June 2018

King College Hospital 700 volunteers are remarkable individuals, from our youngest, who is 16, to our oldest who is 88. They perform acts of kindness each and every day across our hospitals. Our volunteers would probably say that what they do is just a small thing. Their actions may sometimes be small, but their value is enormous. They make such a difference to the lives of so many, at what can be both a challenging and scary time.

King's College London volunteers

So how do we know that our volunteers make a difference? Our Family and Friends Test surveys show that patients who interact with volunteers rate their experience of care more highly. But it’s when I hear the stories from patients, families, visitors and staff that I know that a volunteer’s actions have truly made an impact:

  • The letter sent to our Chief Executive to say thank you for the care their relative received in our Emergency Department, highlighting the compassion and support given by our volunteer and, yes, there were plenty of cups of tea!
  • A thank you card from a woman just days after her sister had died, to say how much the family appreciated the hand massages our trained volunteers gave her and the difference it made in the last weeks of her life
  • Another was grateful to a volunteer who guided them through the maze of corridors to get them to their appointment, taking them right to the door!
  • One of our volunteers was even approached on a bus recently, and thanked for their help the week before!

People often drop by the Volunteer Office to say thank you and, in appreciation, ask about how they can volunteer.

Next time you are in hospital look around you and I’m sure you’ll be able to spot a volunteer. They’ll most likely be sporting a bright uniform and be helping someone! Please go up to them and just say ‘thank you’ - it will be greatly appreciated.

Petula Storey

Above and beyond

Singling out volunteers is always difficult, but the part that three of our volunteers played in the hospital’s response to the incidents in London and the Grenfell Tower fire, stand out – Angela, William and Paul really did go above and beyond their duties. In the days following Grenfell, Angela helped to reunite families with their loved ones, William supported young Grenfell victims being treated on our Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and Paul supported many patients on our acute surgical wards after the Borough Market incident.

And then there are the many volunteers who come in week in week out –  Barrie, Michael, Marthy, Tina, Carol, Yashar, George, Anne and Christine, to name just a few.  Christine has volunteered each week for the past thirty years supporting our chaplaincy team and, in day surgery, holding the hands of patients undergoing eye surgery.

Kindness Awards winners from King's College London

An ask of you

In this, the 70th year of the NHS, when you think of your local hospital, I would ask that, alongside the doctors, nurses, reception staff, you will think of volunteers as, to borrow a phrase from our volunteer Chi, “one part of the NHS jigsaw”.

Next time you are in hospital look around you and I’m sure you’ll be able to spot a volunteer. They’ll most likely be sporting a bright uniform and be helping someone! Please go up to them and just say ‘thank you’ – it will be greatly appreciated.

You could also sign up to be a volunteer. Nearly all hospitals across the country have a volunteer programme and ask only for a few hours a week. You could join a team (of around 78,000 volunteers in acute trusts and an estimated 3 million volunteers in the NHS) making a difference to not only the local community but the NHS as a whole. Volunteering could be one way for you to say thank you to an institution we all love.

Petula Storey

Head of Volunteering

Petula has been Head of Volunteering at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust since October 2015.

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