Sheffield's NHS volunteers praised for their amazing work in vaccine rollout

NHS volunteers in Sheffield have been praised for their amazing support and dedication to help deliver the city’s Covid-19 vaccination roll-out.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 9:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 10:00 am
Volunteers have been thanked for their hard work
Volunteers have been thanked for their hard work

To mark Volunteers’ Week, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has highlighted the vital contribution they have made.

Emma Scott, voluntary services manager at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme simply could not have functioned without volunteers, and feedback from patients and staff regarding their involvement has been exceptional.

"Prior to coronavirus, we had 450 to 500 volunteers working in a variety of roles across the trust, and throughout the pandemic over 200 of them have continued to freely give up their time in a variety of roles to provide a friendly smile and vital support to patients.

"During Volunteers’ Week we’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to them for their amazing support.”

Volunteers have taken part in the vaccination programme as well as fulfilling other varied roles in the trust. This includes collecting medications, promoting Covid-19 safety measures and making sure donated clothing gets to patients who need them.

Julie Fox started volunteering at the Covid-19 vaccination centre at Sheffield Arena in February. As well as welcoming patients at the entrance, she manages the queues for the vaccine ‘pods’ and helps patients to feel at ease with the process.

Julie is one of 140 volunteers who has collectively given over 192 full time weeks of work to support the Covid-19 vaccination programme at both the Arena and at the hospital’s own staff vaccination hub.

“Coming into the Arena can be a bit daunting – it is a big place and essentially you are coming for someone to put a needle in your arm! We try to bring a smile, a big welcome and bit of sunshine to help make the visit as easy and as positive as possible,” she said.

Richard Taylor, who normally works in the arts, said he wanted to do something that was “tangibly useful now” while the sector was quiet and signed up for a voluntary role at the NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre in February.

He now guides visitors through the vaccine process, from entering and showing them to the desks for ‘check-in’, to showing them through the Arena itself, ultimately waving them goodbye and directing them back to the car park or tram.

“Volunteering has had such a positive effect on my own sense of purpose and wellbeing that I will certainly continue to be involved with volunteering for the NHS as long as I can.”

Geraldine Ball, who worked in NHS virology laboratories for 36 years until she retired and is now volunteering at the Arena as well, says she understood the importance of effective vaccines against infections. “I wanted to do my bit, however small, to help bring an end to the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

And it’s not just the Covid-19 vaccination programme volunteers have continued to support throughout the pandemic, with many other roles being supported. Anita Bates became a volunteer she wanted to do something different and because her husband had cancer, and now volunteers as a pharmacy runnier, “I wanted to give something back in his honour. To learn new things, meet people, make new friends and make a difference to their lives.” She now takes chemotherapy to the nurses stations and helps staff get the boxes packed ready for delivery to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital for patients.

Other roles that have continued throughout the pandemic are welcomer volunteers, who have been helping to promote Covid-19 safety measures as well as meeting and greeting patients, volunteers who have helped Hospital Radio to continue to broadcast, and volunteer marshalls to support the drive-through blood testing service at the Arena before it moved to Longley Lane at the Northern General Hospital and ophthalmology services at the Arena.

Kirsten Major, Chief Executive for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our volunteers have always been an invaluable part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals but over the last 15 months and since the start of the pandemic their commitment and support to staff and patients has been nothing short of incredible. All our volunteers have adapted to new roles, played an integral part of the vaccination programme and basically met every request and challenge set them. On behalf of everyone who works here at the Trust we would like to say a huge thank you for their time, energy and dedication which is very much appreciated every day.”

The Trust has been profiling its volunteers on its Facebook account, @SheffieldTeachingHospitals. To support the work of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ volunteers visit https://www.sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk/donate/volunteerservice/5/credit-card?fbclid=IwAR3m5pIU-ne59nV9c5dVZRgDvPMow9D0sA3t399FT_6Bmgp7lfZeS3OkWaY.

To find out more about Volunteers’ Week 2021 visit https://volunteersweek.org/.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​