Young Person’s Volunteering Programme: Charlotte

Our evidence shows that volunteering improves communication skills and confidence and facilitates personal challenge and growth. The opportunity to volunteer is also seen as beneficial by Higher Education providers; although not all of the young people participating are seeking future careers in the health sector. More details about the programme are available here.

Charlotte is currently studying for her ‘A’ levels and volunteers after college once a week. She explains:

‘I took on this role due to my aspirations to become a medical professional.  Volunteering has been invaluable for me, not only in the development of my communication skills, but also in growning my understanding of what it means to work on a hospital ward, and the co-dependence between the staff.  Across my 100 hours, I have grown so much in confidence, volunteering was a fantastic decision for me.’

Profile: Theresa

Theresa also trained as a mentor, so she helps new volunteers to settle in and to understand the value of volunteering. Theresa says, ‘I love and enjoy what I do as a volunteer. Each week presents itself with something new and I value every moment with a patient. I am always happy to see someone’s face brightened through my little contribution.  

It is quite humbling how much appreciation I receive from patients and staff. This gives fulfilment and the realisation of how much difference the little time I give makes. I intended to volunteer for a few months but have lost count of time.

As a mentor, I cherish every session spent with new volunteers, it is rewarding to see them settle comfortably.  

The Cambridge University Hospitals Voluntary Services team has been incredibly friendly and supportive. Their inspiration and devotion has inspired me and I know it will extend to others.

Profile: Nick and Jack

And a patient answered, ‘He wags his tail and looks friendly, then his handler has a nice chat with you!’ Our PAT dogs are registered with Pets As Therapy, have passed a stringent temperament test and have an up to date certificate of registration.

Volunteer owner/handler Nick says: ‘While we have visited the wards our normal routine involves visit to the outpatients. This is ideal for Jack as he loves meeting as many new people as possible. He generally does a quick circulation and then seems to be able to focus in on those patients, friends or family who seem in most need of attention from a very loving dog! Attending outpatients can be a very stressful experience but when Jack enters the waiting area you can see how everyone perks up, starts to relax and begin chatting about their own experiences with their pets. Often when we leave you can see that the conversations between those who were strangers, wrapped up in their own worlds a few moments ago, continue and the atmosphere is changed.

Jack loves the whole experience, from putting on his ‘uniform’, in his case his PAT bandana and volunteer’s badge, the walk through the hospital to start his ‘rounds’ to the treats he gets from the staff in the clinics. What do I get out of volunteering? Well, apart from seeing the pleasure Jack gets, it is immensely satisfying and rewarding to see the reactions of patients, their families and friends and the staff of Addenbrookes to having Jack visit.

If you have a suitable dog and are interested in the scheme, please contact Pets As Therapy to register your dog before applying to volunteer. Details can be found on page xx of this booklet. Thank you!

Profile: Ann

I found I still yearn to be somehow part of a local health care service. While considering a return pathway or just being involved, I have valued the opportunity to experience the workplace and appreciate it from an entirely different perspective. I have found that most people are immensely grateful and always enthusiastic to share that gratitude especially when they learn that the work is entirely unpaid. In fact the concept of working unpaid is alien to some of the population, yet the rewards are incredibly satisfying. I also recognise that it is not an experience that is possible for everyone, given the financial constraints of daily living.

I am immensely proud to be part of volunteering at Cambridge University Hospitals. The experience of the local client population of being cared for is absolutely enhanced by the contribution of volunteers to our hospital.  I feel I am in some little way contributing to the successful delivery of a service which we simply would find it difficult to live without. It has been said that the NHS runs on goodwill. I think where volunteers are concerned this is certainly true.

Together - Safe, kind, Excellent