Volunteer case studies

Eleanor - Speech and Language Therapy Volunteer

EleanorHow long have you been a volunteer?

Almost a year.

What made you want to volunteer with us?

When I applied to volunteer, I was about to embark on my third year of studying undergraduate psychology. I thought volunteering at Sheffield Children’s Hospital would be an invaluable opportunity for me to acquire some people-based experience which is favoured by employers of psychology graduates.

I am also extremely interested in working with children so volunteering at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital really appealed to me.

Upon visiting the volunteer open evening, I learned that volunteers were required to commit a couple of hours per week. This encouraged me to apply as the level of commitment was perfect for a university student.

What do you do in your role?

My role mainly involves supporting speech and language therapy sessions for young children aged between 2-4. I am involved in setting up the sessions, greeting the families, playing with the children, engaging in the session’s activities, monitoring developments in the speech and language of the children and feeding those developments back to the team post-session.

When there are no sessions taking place, I assist the team with admin work which involves photocopying, printing and putting homework packs together.

In recent months, I have been supporting play sessions for children with socio-communication difficulties alongside my usual duties.

What is most satisfying part of your role and what do you enjoy about it?

This particular volunteer role is very hands-on in that volunteers are actively involved in speech and language therapy sessions, hence the most satisfying part of my role is the interaction I am able to have with the children attending the sessions.

It is also very rewarding role as you get to see the children develop in regards to their speech and language over the course of the therapy programme.

What have you gained from volunteering?

I have gained a lot from volunteering in the Speech and Language Therapy department over the past year.

Volunteering has enabled me to develop my skill set which will make me more employable in the future. In particular, I have developed my interpersonal skills, play skills, organisation skills, teamwork skills, and communication skills.

I have also gained an insight into the role of Speech and Language therapists and what it would be like to work in the department.

Finally, I have gained experience of volunteering for the NHS and the Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I eventually aspire to work for Sheffield Children’s Hospital in the Psychology Department so previous experience of having volunteered for the organisation will hopefully help me to secure a job.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about becoming a volunteer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital?

I would say go for it! The hospital really is a wonderful place to volunteer and there are volunteer positions to suit everyone; whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a patient-facing role.

I would advise potential volunteers to think carefully about where they want to volunteer considering the following factors: which volunteer position could you contribute the most to, which volunteering position best fits with your existing timetable, which volunteering position best suits your skill set, which volunteering position most interests you etc.

I would also tell potential volunteers that the hospital requires committed volunteers who can volunteer on a regular basis (typically a few hours a week). Therefore, I would advise potential volunteers to ensure they can commit this time before submitting an application.

Liz - Emergency Department 'Meet & Greet' Volunteer

LizHow long have you been a volunteer?

Just over two years (since April 2015)

What made you want to volunteer with us?

I was recently retired with spare time on my hands. I had previously encountered a volunteer in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and thought I may like to do that too but then forgot about it, until I noticed a small article in the Sheffield Telegraph, advertising volunteer vacancies at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

I live locally and have long family associations with the hospital through my siblings and my children and felt I would like to ‘give something back’!

I am definitely a people person and felt the ‘meet & greet’ role would be where I could be useful.

What do you do in your role?

I meet and greet patients, their families, visitors, occasionally the police and ambulance service (non-emergency), staff and anyone using the Emergency Department entrance. I deal with all sorts of queries as many people use that entrance but really need to be elsewhere in the hospital. I direct them or in most cases, accompany them to where they really need to be.

Sometimes they have unusual concerns… ‘Do you know the time of the next train to Grimsby? Where can I buy some baby clothes? I need to go on a run while my child is asleep, I did 20 laps of the park yesterday, where else can I go?’ Mostly though they need directing to another department or ward or the restaurant!

I am on my feet for the whole shift but I enjoy walking people around the hospital and it’s cheaper than joining a gym!

What is most satisfying part of your role and what do you enjoy about it?

Being able to solve a problem which is worrying, possibly distressing, to the person who is in front of me. It only takes a few minutes, seconds even, but makes their visit to the hospital so much easier and less stressful.

It makes me feel very proud of the calibre of our hospital and staff when I hear how far some people have come for an appointment and Sheffield Children’s Hospital is the only place in the country where their child can be treated.

What have you gained from volunteering?

I have routine to my week and look forward to my shift. I enjoy my relationship with the Emergency Department staff, particularly the receptionists, who tell me they greatly value my help in intercepting queries which would otherwise come to them.

I am proud to tell people I am a volunteer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about becoming a volunteer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital?

Do it!

John - Main Reception 'Meet & Greet' Volunteer

JohnHow long have you been a volunteer?

Five years.

What made you want to volunteer with us?

Following personal struggles after the sudden death of my wife in 2010, a personal friend who volunteered at the hospital persuaded me to volunteer as something useful to occupy my time. I took up volunteering at the hospital in January 2013.

It, along with other pursuits, helped me to build a range of positive activities that create ‘recovery capital’ – good things to do that make you feel positive and help give something back to the community.

What do you do in your role?

I meet and greet families and help them find their appointments. I have also sat on interview panels for staff and new volunteers and have helped with the induction of new volunteers, admin for staff flu jabs and fundraising for The Children’s Hospital Charity and Burns Unit.

What is most satisfying part of your role and what do you enjoy about it?

I enjoy helping people, especially parents who may be anxious and worried about their child’s appointment and helping to put them at ease.

What have you gained from volunteering?

It makes me happy to know that I have helped people get through a difficult experience and that they feel more comfortable and reassured afterwards.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about becoming a volunteer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital?

Do it! You’ll feel good about yourself by helping others!

Shahid - Outpatients Department 'Meet & Greet' Volunteer

ShahidHow long have you been a volunteer?

I have been a volunteer in the Outpatients Department for ten months and have loved every single minute.

What made you want to volunteer with us?

I have had past experience with the hospital and wanted to give something back to such an amazing group of people. I also wanted to experience hospital life from a staff point of view and see what challenges the staff had to overcome to deliver a great patient experience. What better to do in my spare time than help people in need?

What do you do in your role?

In my role my main duties are to check people in for their appointment as well as show people to where they need to go, wherever this may be within the hospital. Also a few other tasks that I may come across are talking to parents and children who have concerns or worries about their situation as well as doing small tasks such as tidying up. There is never a dull moment.

What is most satisfying part of your role and what do you enjoy about it?

The most enjoyable part is when you have helped someone get to where they need to be going or have improved their stay at the hospital. When they say thanks, you know you have done a good job.

What have you gained from volunteering?

I have gained various attributes from the role. My communication and confidence has definitely improved massively when talking to the public. I have also gained various skills in how to deal with children and how to keep them calm and occupied even in the most unusual cases.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about becoming a volunteer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital?

Do it. There are so many roles that you can come across at the hospital that there is definitely something for everyone. You can also learn lots of new skills and meet some great people, that’s what volunteering at Sheffield Children’s Hospital is all about.

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