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St Andrew’s celebrates Volunteers' Week with a rainbow of thanks

 

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, our volunteers make a huge difference to the well-being of our patients in helping transform the lives of people affected by mental health issues. To thank our volunteers for the extraordinary efforts they have made over the last 12 months, our Voluntary Services Team have created a special rainbow to say thank you.​​​​​​​

Below, Voluntary Services Manager, Dawn Wright shares a little information on what our amazing team of volunteers have been up to throughout the pandemic...

 

Volunteers

“During the first 12 months of the pandemic, over 11,500 voluntary hours were donated by our volunteers.  Even though restrictions meant that volunteers were not able to physically attend the hospital, they stepped up in many imaginative ways to support each other and to ensure our patients didn’t miss out.  This included remotely supporting their regular patients via letters, Zoom and phone calls.  They also sent in stories, letters, cards, activities, quizzes and how-to guides for various crafts which the Voluntary Services team were able to copy and package together as weekly Patient Activity packs which were sent to every single ward, each week.   A Volunteer’s peer support group was set up, and members shared contact details with each other so that they could stay in touch (separate to St Andrew's) and support one another through the pandemic by providing a listening ear, some light hearted distraction or just sharing experiences.   We also set up a much needed pen-pal service for patients who were struggling with the pandemic, which our volunteers were more than happy to help with.  At one point, they were writing to 11 patients in total.”

 

Clinical Staff

“Our clinical teams found themselves under tremendous pressure with the pandemic and the uncertainty of what that brought.  Working so closely with patients, they put themselves literally on the front-line, everyday, to ensure our patients’ mental and physical health was cared for in the best possible way.  For many of these staff, this meant working considerably longer hours than usual.  On top of their usual roles, the clinical staff also had to provide entertainment and activities to the patients, uplift and support their teams and find the energy to push through their own fears, anxieties, tiredness and pains to put the patients first.  They all did this with aplomb.”

 

Non Clinical Staff

“Our non-clinical staff who are mainly from areas of admin, grounds or horticulture were quick to support their ward colleagues and patients by volunteering hundreds of hours to support in any way they could, on top of doing their own jobs.   This included shopping for patients/wards, helping with lunches, laundry, security, patient activities or ward admin and the massive task of managing absence list/sickness cover to ensure there was an appropriate number of staff on each shift for safety.  This was no mean feat and almost every staff member stepped up to do something to support the crisis on top of their own roles.”

 

Dawn and the Volunteers have been keen to ensure all of our staff know how appreciated they are. She explained: “In the third month of the pandemic, when we could see the global death toll rising and our own staff struggling, we decided to run a "Poster N Treats" campaign to let all the staff who were going the extra mile know that they were not alone, their mammoth efforts were recognised and that they were appreciated by us, their colleagues and the hospital.  We didn’t really know what to expect but the results were astounding."

"Overall, nearly 150 non-clinical staff joined the campaign to create individual bespoke posters for the ward and teams they were assigned, and this was accompanied by hampers and treats of sweets, magazines and home baked goods.  The recipients were surprised and overwhelmed to receive their treats and the staff involved also expressed how much they loved being part of it.  To this day, we still get thanks and positive feedback about the impact of the campaign and it is really nice to still see some of the bespoke posters adorning the walls of individual teams.”

 

If you’d like to find out more about how to get involved in volunteering at St Andrew’s, contact our Voluntary Services Team.