New volunteer programme launched after successful student scheme

Shauna Neylon

Our Voluntary Services team has developed a programme to support young people after a successful scheme ran last summer helping students who missed out on education due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Student Summer Volunteer programme gave 12 local students the opportunity to experience working in our hospitals two days a week for six weeks.

Shauna Neylon Shauna Neylon, 18, was one of those on our Student Summer programme last year, volunteering in different specialties at Queen’s Hospital, including maternity, oncology, and therapies.

Since finishing the programme, Shauna, who lives in Elm Park and studies Extended Health and Social Care at Havering Sixth Form College, has continued to volunteer in our Emergency Department (ED).

Speaking about her ambition to become a nurse, Shauna said: “When I was younger, I wanted to be a social worker. But my aunt was diagnosed with cancer and I saw the way the nurses and hospice carers looked after her and it made me want to give back and help others.”

Shauna is set to begin studying Adult Nursing at King’s College London in September and says her volunteering experience has solidified her desire to become a nurse.  

She said: “It completely secured it in my mind; every week I'd look forward to coming into the hospital and now I can't wait for September to start and be one step closer to becoming a nurse.

“While I’m at uni, I’ll be doing shifts as a healthcare assistant with the Trust because the main fundamentals of nursing are personal care and assisting people and that's the role of a healthcare assistant.

“I feel like I'm giving myself a little bit of a head start by doing this now rather than waiting until I begin uni and then looking for it.”

Antoinette Webber Antoinette Webber, Voluntary Services Manager, said: “Shauna has completely excelled and been amazing since she started volunteering with us at a time when we were in the pandemic and a lot of people were petrified.

“Normal life stopped so for Shauna and some of the other young people to still come in and face that fear was absolutely tremendous because it was scary for all of us. That is really commendable because it was a really difficult thing to do, so it requires a real level of digging deep to push through.”

As well as Shauna maintaining her connection with our hospitals, two of the other students on the programme have received tentative offers of apprenticeships with us and two others have continued volunteering.

The Student Summer Volunteer programme has led to the development of a new, more robust scheme which won’t just focus on students who missed out on education through lockdown, but will instead look to support vulnerable young people, who are disadvantaged, have experience of the care system, or who are at risk of criminality.

Three groups of students will take part in the programme in its first year and we are exploring pathways for those who complete it.

Victoria Miles-Gale, Head of Patient Experience, said: “This is a really innovative and exciting programme that will directly impact our local communities. It is a structured programme with competencies to be achieved so will provide the people taking part with evidence of their learning and development. 

“Developing this programme will really help the Trust as we attempt to grow our own workforce for the future.”

We will be launching the first cohort of the new programme later this month and are working with local partner organisations to ensure this meets the needs of local young people and provides real opportunity for education and employment.

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