Meet Our Volunteers
Do you volunteer at one of our hospitals? Would you like to tell your story to encourage more people to volunteer? Call the Volunteer Service on 0121 507 4855 to share your experience.
Marcia Shuter, 70, of Great Barr, is a volunteer at Sandwell Hospital’s Newton 5 ward. In October 2019 she scooped a Star Award, the Trust’s annual ceremony recognising staff and volunteers at our organisation.
She said: “I wanted to give something back to the staff who worked there as I witnessed first-hand the excellent care they were giving to my husband, so I decided to volunteer.
“When I started I really did enjoy it. John wasn’t always on the ward when I was volunteering, but when he was, it was lovely being close to him.”
John, who worked as an electrical and hydraulics engineer, passed away in April, 2017, aged 69 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in Newton 5 with Marcia by his side. He had battled the disease for 12 years.
Marcia, a mum-of-two, added: “He died in exactly the place that he wanted to be in, with all the doctors and nurses there that had taken care of him over the years. About two weeks later I returned to volunteering and I received a tremendous amount of support from everyone.”
Marcia continues to volunteer for two afternoons a week on the ward, where she makes teas and coffees for staff and patients. She also sits with patients and keeps them company whilst they are undergoing treatment.
“I love volunteering at the hospital,” she added.
Kam Duggal, 46, of Handsworth, is a volunteer at The Lyng Centre, West Bromwich. She found out about the service from her sister, who recommended she try it out.
“I think it’s absolutely brilliant – I love being a volunteer,” said mum-of-two Kam.
“I love helping people. My role is about getting people get into the right area and it’s great when you see the relief on their faces because I have assisted them.
“I get to meet so many different people and they have lots of stories to tell. The staff at The Lyng Centre are lovely and we all get on really well. The role also gets me out of the house, and the hours suit me very well.
“I would highly recommend volunteering to people out there.”
What our staff say about volunteers
Louise Thompson, Infant Feeding Co-ordinator, said: “Currently we have volunteers working as ‘wayfinders’ in the maternity reception at City Hospital. They have had a positive impact on helping patients find the area that they need and offer a friendly welcome to all visiting maternity department. Two of the volunteers Wirginia (see right) and Kim have completed breastfeeding peer support training with Sandwell Breastfeeding Network. They are able to offer much needed feeding support to new mums on the postnatal wards. Breastfeeding peer support has a positive impact on breastfeeding duration which is a public health issue.”
Michael Beech, Senior Charge Nurse, AMU & West Midlands Poisons Unit, City Hospital, said: “Just wanted to let you know about the effect that our volunteers have had on our unit. They have integrated into the team seamlessly, their assistance can make a hard day much easier, it really is heart-warming to see someone who has given up their own time to sit and chat with patients.”
Pam Towers, service manager for Medical Records, said: “We have quite a few volunteers within our department and it is working very well.
“The uniforms provided are a great way for patients to identify them and they appreciate the help and friendly face. From a manager’s point of view it helps support the reception staff when they get caught up with a more complicated issue and are unable to assist when there is more than one patient to support.”
Laura Young, Group Lead Nurse within Surgery B at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital (BMEC), added: “BMEC have been fortunate in utilising volunteers in different roles. The wayfinders in BMEC Outpatients Department provide an invaluable resource in supporting our visually impaired clients in using the automated check- in desks and ensuring that they safely reach the correct destination. This has helped to reduce the anxiety around attending appointments for many of our patients. The process of volunteering is a two way activity, staff take their social responsibilities seriously and have been delighted to work with a volunteer within an administration role, supporting this individual to gain confidence in a work environment.”
Sally Neilson, Assistant Operational Manager for Maternity and Neonates, said: “Volunteers have been helping in Maternity Antenatal Clinic at City Hospital since the beginning of February 2016. There are a small team of female volunteers who cover the Antenatal Clinic reception area at different times and days of the week. Easily identifiable in their bright blue and yellow volunteer uniform and Trust name badge, the lovely team of ladies who have given up their own time to come and help us, stand at the front of the reception area, meeting and greeting our patients and their families and friends with a smile and helping them with any queries or concerns they may have and navigate their way around the self-check in kiosks, particularly if it is their first visit to the Clinic.
“Their duties are primarily to assist and direct patients and their families through the reception area and to ensure they are in the right area of clinic in time for their appointment. They strive to improve the patient experience and help to alleviate the anxiety felt by some of our patients whilst in the clinic/hospital environment.
“I asked one of our volunteers about her role and she told me the following: ‘It is brilliant standing at the front of reception with a smile. Patients are very happy to receive my help, say thank you and make me feel very much needed and appreciated. I look forward to coming every time and really enjoy it. I feel like I am always smiling’.
“We very much appreciate the assistance given by the volunteers who have very quickly become part of our team. They are reliable and hardworking, they are an asset to our service and we would like to thank them very much for giving up their valuable time to help our patients and their families.”
The Star Awards recognises the hard work and dedication of colleagues’ right across our Trust. A category for Volunteer of the Year features each year. You can find out more by going to: https://www.swbh.nhs.uk/about-us/the-star-awards/