Around 100 hospital volunteers who gave up their time to help others during the coronavirus pandemic have gained employment at a local trust.
Since the start of the pandemic more than 500 people from the local community have signed up to South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s therapeutic support programme.
Under the leadership of Debi McKeown, lead nurse for therapeutic support, the volunteers have been providing valuable therapeutic support to patients and staff throughout the trust and have been contributing to a positive hospital experience for everyone.
Over the last year 94 volunteers have been employed in a number of contracted roles such as health care assistants, wards clerks, personal assistants, medical record officers and porters in a number of areas across the trust, including pathology, pharmacy and medical equipment stores.
Debi said: “I have always known that our volunteers add such a lot to the patient’s experience but to see people volunteer during a pandemic blew my mind. They’ve been so selfless, nothing was too much trouble. They’ve supported us shoulder to shoulder all the way through and I couldn’t be more grateful.
“We normally have a lot of people gain employment with us following their volunteering but to have nearly 100 in a year is incredible. I’m so proud of all of them.”
Glenn Middleton, from Saltburn, is one of the many to have gained employment after deciding to join the trust’s army of volunteers during the pandemic.
Before volunteering he enjoyed a long and successful career as a teacher but in his retirement felt he still had more to contribute.
After signing-up Glen was quickly shuttling the constant flow of boxes containing COVID swabs down to the hospital’s pathology lab, offering food and drinks to patients where appropriate and assisting with their care within the parameters of his volunteer role.
As the pandemic continued he became a runner on the COVID wards and also took part in stewarding the first stage of the vaccination rollout.
He said: “Throughout this time I was continually impressed and inspired by the work of the staff at all levels, the care and kindness shown to patients in often very difficult and challenging situations, particularly in A&E.”
Glen, who is now an employed porter at James Cook, believes his experience as a volunteer played a significant part in his successful application.
Allison McLaughlin-Day, who used to work in retail, also gained employment within the trust as a COVID swabbing healthcare assistant after helping out in the vaccination hub at James Cook.
“I signed-up as I wanted to give something back to NHS and to help out to support trust,” she said.
“I feel very lucky to be working for the trust; the volunteer experience gave me the opportunity. I never thought in a million years I would be working in a hospital – it’s amazing.”