Taite Hawes, Youth Volunteer Coordinator at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, shares how their youth volunteering programme is going and the impact young people make in hospitals.
Here at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, our Youth Volunteering Programme commenced in January 2020. Since then, we have welcomed 95 young people into a variety of different roles. These have included: ward visitors, way finders, pharmacy runners, vaccination clinic volunteers and maternity support volunteers. In the time that young volunteers have been present in the Trust we have received brilliant feedback from staff, patients and other volunteers alike, and have seen many brilliant examples of intergenerational working between young volunteers and adult volunteers. In one case, a young volunteer helped a more mature volunteer to order the same trainers as her. Whenever you saw them volunteer together, they would be smiling away and sporting the same shoes!
We have also run a few youth social action projects. Our most recent involved a small group of young volunteers working in pairs to interview and film five minute clips of a variety of different staff. They interviewed staff from different backgrounds, including our Chief Nurse, Pharmacy Technician and Travel Administrator. In total, they interviewed 45 staff over four weeks in the summer holidays. They asked them about what a day in their role looks like, and their career path up until this point. The aim of this was for the young volunteers to be able to co-produce a resource which they could access and watch to learn more about careers available in the NHS as a whole.
Aligning with this concept, in October we held our first career talk. We had our Consultant Histopathologist give a talk on ‘Pathology – Tools of the Trade’. This was a fascinating event where volunteers learnt about the tools used in an autopsy and the career of a pathologist. The aim of these talks is to give young volunteers more opportunities in addition to their volunteering role, to learn about the lesser known careers available in the NHS.
When youth volunteering commenced at the Trust, most volunteers stayed short term; now, we encourage long-term volunteering. Our longest serving volunteers have been with us for over two years and we are pleased to be able to support volunteers to experience a rotation of roles in their time with us.
A recent achievement was two of our young volunteers being awarded with the Trust’s ‘Living Our Values – Working Positively Together’ Award for July 2021. Both volunteers were nominated as their adult volunteer colleague left their bag on a bus and the young volunteers got on every bus, until on the fifth bus, they found the bag. Both were presented with their awards by the Company Secretary and Youth Volunteer Coordinator.
We have a lot that we are able to offer our young volunteers. Looking into the future, we will be creating and developing more opportunities for them. They are an invaluable asset to our Trust, and are a friendly, welcoming face for patients, staff and visitors.
With thanks to North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust for sharing this story with IVAR.