Volunteers’ Week 2017: Hundreds who give time to health sector celebrated at cathedral picnic
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Volunteers working in various parts of healthcare are being celebrated for their contribution to keeping us well.
As part of Volunteers' Week - which runs from June 1 - 8 - many organisations have spoken up to voice their gratitude.
And today a picnic was held to highlight just how important the time given so generously by people across our region is.
Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCHC) and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) hosted the feast at Norwich Cathedral.
And around 100 volunteers were thanked personally by High Sheriff of Norfolk James Bagge.
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One NCHC was Adam Bloomfield, a volunteer on Alder Ward at Norwich Community Hospital.
Mr Bloomfield said: "[Volunteering] is remarkable, the nurses definitely appreciate you being there and they make you feel really welcome."
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Elizabeth Thacker, a volunteer ward befriender on the same ward, said: "I get so much out of volunteering. I love working with the patients and it's given me some really useful skills. I now want to work in health care so this has given me valuable experience."
Cathy May, a volunteer at the Sure Start Children's Centre and Nursery, Bowthorpe, added: "I love volunteering. The staff are really helpful, they've been really supportive, particularly in helping me understand child development."
Those who received an invite to the special event today had the chance to share their experiences with other volunteers and talk about why they volunteer and what it means to them. They were also treated to live music and many took advantage of Cathedral tours of the stunning grounds, which ran throughout the afternoon.
Mr Bagge has pledged to make volunteering the theme of his term in office, and yesterday met volunteers at Norwich Community Hospital, respite centre Mill Lodge, and at the Matrix Project which provides support for vulnerable adults and sex workers.
Dawn Collins, deputy director of nursing at NSFT said: "The gift of time really matters and we wanted to show our appreciation for the continued passion and enthusiasm volunteers have for our Trust. Volunteering can be very rewarding, a chance to gain experience and make a difference in your local community. The support volunteers give our staff in delivering care to patients really makes a difference."
Anna Morgan, director of nursing at NCHC added: "We very much appreciate our volunteers who give their own time to work alongside our wide range of services. Their support is invaluable and this event, in these wonderful surroundings, is a great way for us to show our appreciation and thanks for all that they do. We hope this event highlights how much we value volunteers and will encourage other people thinking about volunteering to join us."
At the region's mental health trust, an appeal to increase the amount of volunteers was launched in July 2016.
MORE: Charities team up to find hosts for refugees in Norwich And since then, volunteer numbers have almost doubled with nearly 100 people giving up their time.
MORE: Thetford volunteer Tony Croome is celebrated for his work by EACH Denise Jones, 54, volunteers as a meeter and greeter at Kirkley Cliff, in Lowestoft. She started volunteering with NSFT because she felt the need to put her spare time to good use.
"Volunteering is boosting my confidence and is also giving me some worthwhile work experience," she said.
"It is a pleasure meeting different people and I enjoy the fact that I contribute to a service that will benefit others."
People interested in volunteering with the Trust can check the current posts advertised on our Trust's website. Currently, they are looking for volunteers with green fingers to help out with gardens in Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich.
Elsewhere in the sector, Maureen Roy, from Norwich, volunteers for national charity Epilepsy Action because she has epilepsy herself.
Mrs Roy had her first seizure when she was 40. Her own experience showed her how confusing and isolating epilepsy can be and this is what inspired her to volunteer.
MORE: Pop-up volunteer centre at Vancouver Quarter in King's Lynn She said: "I have had several other health conditions throughout my adult life but none have been as frustrating as epilepsy. When I first started having seizures, I didn't know what was happening to me. I would pass out with seemingly no reason. I have lived with uncontrolled focal seizures for 25 years but, for most of this time, I have been able to work full-time as a high school teacher."
Mrs Roy now runs the successful Epilepsy Action coffee and chat group and under her care, the group has grown in size.
She added: "Eventually, with the help of my doctors and information from the Epilepsy Action website, I learnt about my epilepsy. I wanted other people to feel more confident about their epilepsy in the way I did.
"The coffee and chat group is the perfect setting for me to help others. In the welcoming setting of our group, people can get practical advice about living with epilepsy. I help people to look at the information on the Epilepsy Action website and keep up to date with the latest epilepsy news. The local epilepsy nurses are also regular visitors and give advice and friendly support.
MORE: Volunteers celebrated for the contribution they make for free "Most importantly though, the coffee and chat group lets people share experiences in a friendly and supportive environment. It is such a safe space where people can share their concerns and feel supported. People chat and meet up between our sessions. I have seen real friendships grow."
The Norwich coffee and chat group meets on the first Monday of each month at 7pm, in Cafe Marzano, The Forum, Millennium Plain.
At Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) more than 670 dedicated volunteers keep things ticking over.
Sally Dyson, Voluntary Services Manager at NNUH, said: "We are always extremely grateful to our volunteers who support us so much and we are always looking for kind-hearted people who have a few hours a week spare who would like to help around the hospital."
The legion of ambulance service supporters are also being celebrated at the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST).
They have 140 car drivers who take patients to and from routine appointments, providing a vital service to local community members who are unable to transport themselves.
Their Trust User Group is an independent group of volunteers from around the region who help identify ways of improving services and support EEAST with a range of activities.
Community first responders are trained by EEAST to attend certain types of emergency calls in the area where they live or work. Their aim is to reach a potential life threatening emergency in the first vital minutes before the ambulance crew arrives. There are 950 CFRs across the EEAST region.
Chief Executive Robert Morton, said: "We are very lucky to be supported by our volunteers; they help us deliver our mission to provide a safe and effective healthcare service to all our communities in the east of England. Our volunteers really do make the difference; thank you!"
For more information about Volunteers' Week, click here.