We paused our volunteering in March as the country went into lockdown and our hospitals needed to care for increasing numbers of patients with Covid-19. As the number of patients we care for with the virus decreases, we are restarting some services, and although things are still running differently, we are now able to begin welcoming back our volunteers.
Charlie Richardson (pictured left), from Romford, volunteered as a wayfinder for three years before the pandemic. We’re pleased to have him back in a new role helping patients at the front desk of Queen’s Hospital and he said he feels “glad to be back”.
Reflecting on the changes he has seen since coming back, he said: “The whole place has totally changed – we’re checking everyone coming into the hospital; there are separate entrances; everyone is wearing face masks. You can’t fault the health and safety – there is sanitiser everywhere! We’ll soon get used to the changes.”
Our volunteers are experts in being a much-needed friendly ear for our patients, a skill which is more valuable now than ever. Charlie said: “Some of the patients we speak to are nervous which is understandable at the moment. We make sure to take a few minutes to reassure them as we help them find where they need to go. Our patients are finding the new processes very different too.”
A big change at King George Hospital has been the introduction of ‘green zones’ which are covid-protected areas for patients having planned surgeries and procedures. Ashok Shah (pictured right), who started volunteering with us last year, was one of our first volunteers back and has been helping in the new area.
Ashok, who lives in Ilford, is helping by checking our staff’s temperatures before they start their shift. He commented that he has been made to feel very welcome in the new area, however, he is looking forward to returning to his old volunteering role as a way finder eventually, he said: “I like volunteering because of the different people you see every day so I’m looking forward to going back to wayfinding and showing patients to different areas of the hospital. The hospital feels much quieter now.”
Ashok said that he wasn’t worried about coming back as the new processes were well explained to him. His wife Nisha and son Anish were happy for him to start volunteering again too, he continued: “They have always been supportive. My son said; “Dad, if you want to do it, go for it.”