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4 June 2018

Friendly volunteers worth their weight in gold

A lively coffee morning to thank a number of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s (KCHFT) volunteers kicked off the Volunteers’ Week (1 to 7 June) celebrations today.

The event at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital was a thank you to some of the 500-plus volunteers who contributed more than 36,000 hours supporting patients, carers and staff. Over the next week our Voluntary Services Team will be spending time thanking and celebrating the fantastic contribution our volunteer army provides to the trust.

Judith Hayhow, Senior Physiotherapist with the Intermediate Care Team at Victoria Hospital in Deal, said: “Our exercise rehab volunteers support patients with their exercises. For many, it’s a friendly face without a uniform for them to talk to. They are worth their weight in gold.’’

The trust operates eight community hospitals, plus health clinics and health centres across Kent and our volunteers offer a range of skills to support our work.

There are hundreds of roles a volunteer can have in the NHS, including ward activity assistant, reception work, service volunteer, cardiac rehabilitation volunteer, administrative or clerical support, ward visitor or helper with the chaplaincy, an arts and craft maker or an events helper.

Volunteers also get involved with baby clinics, tea shops, hospital shops and trolley services. They can be dining companions, do some gardening and are often meet and greeters. Anyone aged over 16 (18 and over in clinical areas) can volunteer.

Erin Clarke started at Victoria Hospital as a dining companion in April. She helps staff with patient hand-washing and giving our hand wipes before meals. She also sits with patients while they are eating, offering encouragement and cutting up food, if necessary. She really enjoys the time spends at the hospital.

Volunteering is for everyone as 23-year-old Dylan Morgan, found out when he started helping with administration to support our Community Neuro Rehab Team in Coxheath, Maidstone. Dylan, who has autism, spends two hours each week filing, photocopying, making up nursing packs and helping with patient surveys.

There are many benefits from volunteering, including:

  • personal satisfaction
  • contributing to other people’s wellbeing
  • personal achievement in accomplishing tasks
  • increasing confidence and self-esteem
  • community involvement
  • meeting new people and reducing isolation
  • learning new skills and knowledge
  • benefits to volunteers’ health and wellbeing
  • encouraging personal pride and fulfilment – the feeling of being valued
  • having fun.

As Healthcare Assistant Sarah Haskins, who works at Edenbridge and District War Memorial Hospital, said: “We have certainly benefited from the volunteers who have helped engage patients in activities in the day room.

“They have visited patients in their rooms, which is wonderful as some patients do not have visitors and they have enjoyed talking to the volunteers and lifting their spirits. We are fortunate to have volunteers here who really do make a difference.’’

You can find out more about our volunteers and the trust’s Volunteer Strategy at

In the pictures: Colleagues and volunteers enjoy coffee and cake at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital thank you event this morning.

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