West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust celebrates is volunteers on volunteers week

As part of Volunteers Week (Monday 3 June – Sunday 9 June), the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) is celebrating the significant contribution volunteers make to patients accessing both its hospital and community services and calling on other people to lend a hand to their local NHS.

The Trust, which runs the West Suffolk Hospital (WSH) in Bury St Edmunds and various adult and children’s community services across the west of Suffolk, currently has 312 registered volunteers with 40 different volunteer roles available. Since January, it estimates they have given 15,571 hours of support to the organisation!

Hazel Player and chief operations officer Nicola Cottington
Hazel Player and chief operations officer Nicola Cottington – Credit WSNHSFT

Two such volunteers include Celia Jeal and Marguerite Burgess, both information desk volunteers at the WSH, have each dedicated 26 years to volunteering.

Celia said: “I was inspired to volunteer by the help I received from an information desk volunteer 26 years ago. I thoroughly enjoy meeting so many different people and I hope I make a difficult time a little easier for them.”

Marguerite added: “I enjoy working with the volunteer team and having contact with patients who require assistance, there is always something new every shift.”

Various volunteer roles are available in clinical areas, for example in the Cardiac Centre, Eye Treatment Centre, emergency department and on wards, as well as non-clinical areas, for example, helping with gardening or in administrative roles, in the WSH and Newmarket Community Hospital, as well as in some community locations.

Staff at the Trust really value the support volunteers provide, including Charlotte King, ward manager of King Suite ward at Glastonbury Court care home, a reablement and recovery ward supporting patients before they are discharged home. She said: “We are so lucky with our amazing volunteers on King Suite – Ivor, Glynis and Thelma. They are friendly, positive, kind, and compassionate. They are always willing to help but will also use their own initiative. Whether it’s giving out hot drinks to patients, spending time chatting to them or doing activities, nothing is too much trouble. They run errands and make beds, which allows our nursing staff more time to provide care.

“Our volunteers are super important to the smooth running of the unit and are a very valuable part of our team. On behalf of everyone on King Suite I would like to thank them all so much for everything they do.”

This week members of the Trust’s executive team are spending time with various volunteers, including in the emergency and radiology departments and on the information desk, learning more about them and the roles they undertake.

Hazel Player has volunteered here for around seven years. She said: “I originally volunteered in the Eye Treatment Centre where I was a hand holder when people had cataract operations. When in the theatre people were often very nervous and anxious so there was always someone to hold their hand, including me. So, I was in scrubs and a mask. Sadly, Covid stopped that role and I now support in the x-ray department. I used to work in hospitals, in the pathology labs for haematology for 20 plus years, and then I worked in research. I’ve always liked hospitals, the camaraderie, and the teams, it’s lovely. When I came to live in Bury St Edmunds after retiring and volunteering in hospitals in Australia, I decided to try here.”

Trust chief operating officer Nicola Cottington visited the radiology department. She said: “I’ve been observing what our volunteers do in the Trust and it’s awesome! They have that human interaction with patients and they’re a friendly face. They reassure people in the waiting room, telling people about the procedure they’re going to have and escorting them to where they need to be. It provides that extra support, meaning our staff can get on with the work that they need to do knowing that their patients are being well looked after.”

To find out more about volunteering at WSFT and to apply to lend a hand in the future, visit our website.