‘I have been a volunteer for the Retired and Senior Volunteers Programme (RSVP) at Volunteering Matters for nearly eight years.
Shortly after I retired from the NHS I took on the Hospital Volunteer Organiser role in NHS Forth Valley. Since then I have also been supporting the other RSVP Forth Valley groups – schools, knitting and walking. I’m an active member of Volunteering Matters RSVP Steering Group, working with other volunteers and staff on the strategic direction of RSVP nationally.
In early March, as the threat of Covid-19 hung over the country, some of the 92 hospital volunteers started to withdraw from their roles. Not long after that the over 70s and people with underlying health conditions were told to stay indoors.
Finally, everyone was told to stay at home and I lost my life as a hospital volunteer organiser. I didn’t stay out of action for long, by the end of April I was back organising Meet and Greet volunteers at a GP centre, then at a Minor Injuries Unit, in a community hospital and at the Eye clinic. The volunteers have been wonderful, welcoming patients, ensuring people were wearing facemasks, following distancing guidelines, and offering hand sanitiser on entry. They also helped people hand in their prescriptions as well as give a friendly, reassuring welcome at this stressful time. They’ve supported NHS and GP staff and I know the staff are very happy with the help provided.
From my anxieties in March about an important role being taken from me, this (originally) little Meet and Greet project, mushrooming in the last few months, has helped me to feel useful again to the local community, and I know the same applies to all the volunteers involved. I stand shoulder to shoulder (virtually) with volunteers across the UK doing very special things, acts of kindness that greatly benefit people and communities at a time of suffering for people across the world.’