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Posted on Jun 2 2020 by Bobbie Kelly

Celebrating our amazing volunteers!

This week marks national volunteers' week - an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering

At St Andrew’s volunteers make a huge difference to the well-being of our patients in helping transform the lives of people affected by mental health issues. Over the past 3 years, we have grown the St Andrew's Volunteers by 156% from 119 to 300.

Although the Coronavirus pandemic has stopped many of the things our volunteers would usually do they’ve still been helping in every way they can.

 Dawn Wright, Voluntary Services Manager at St Andrew's Healthcare, said:

“The support we’ve received from our army of volunteers  throughout this pandemic has been absolutely incredible, from baking cakes, to writing letters to sending food parcels, each and every person has contributed to helping our patients and staff through what has been a really difficult period.”

Mary Oxley is 90 years old and has been volunteering at St Andrew’s for the last 15 years. Due to the lockdown she’s been unable to visit the hospital, as she normally does every week, but has found other ways of helping by sending in weekly letters to both patients and staff. Her three grandchildren have also got involved by baking cakes.

In one her recent letters Mary said:

“To all you incredibly brave, caring, dedicated people. Each day is one day less until we find a way to treat / control the virus.  Keep strong, stay safe.  You are much loved, valued and respected.  I look forward to being back with you all.”

Peggy Sue has also been communicating to patients through a long forgotten form of correspondence: being a Penpal to patients and regularly calling the wards to keep in touch.

“I've already gained a lot from my original volunteering role but nothing compared to answering the call for letters, cards and posters to help support everyone at the rock face during Coronvirus.” Peggy said.

 And it’s not just humans who’ve been playing their part, animals have also got involved. St Andrew’s has a number of pets as therapy animals who normally come on site to visit patients. During the Coronavirus one of their owners has instead decided to send it letters to patients about the story of each of his 14 dogs!  Two of Chris Yates dogs, Lilly and Jake have been visiting St Andrew’s for the last 8 years and are very well known to both patients and staff.

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness are associated with positive mental wellbeing and giving to others, whilst working in a team can create positive feelings and an increased sense of purpose.

The aim of the Voluntary Services is to ensure that - "no patient at St Andrew's ever feels alone.  That every patients feels loved, cared for and valued".  Our volunteers enable this by - "Donating time, patience, kindness and understanding to add magic and sparkle to our patients' every day.

Our youngest volunteer is 18 and our oldest is soon to be 91.  Between them, the volunteers delivered over 20,000 voluntary hours in the last financial year providing support to our patients in various roles.

Our Voluntary Services team welcomes, encourages and supports volunteers - managing volunteer recruitment, training, placement, support and social events. If you’d like to find out more about how to get involved in volunteering at St Andrew’s visit: https://www.stah.org/careers/volunteering/