Volunteers Week 2021- meet some of our amazing Trust volunteers

Date published: 02 June 2021

I first signed up as a volunteer for Radio Hillingdon when I was 15. My friend Sarah and I had visited the radio station previously on a field trip with the Red Cross and I knew Radio Hillingdon had a disco service at the time. I wanted to get some training on how to DJ for parties.

At the time I was too young to be a presenter so I used to help out by cleaning the studios, and I soon earned the nickname ‘Mr Sheen’. At the station’s 25th birthday dinner I was presented with a bottle of Mr Sheen and a duster in a Perspex case.

Nowadays, I am Radio Hillingdon's longest serving Chairman, currently at 14 years. I juggle my time between being a presenter, local news reporter, Chairman, fund-raiser and trainer at Radio Hillingdon, with my main job as a paramedic with LAS.

Radio Hillingdon broadcasts inside the hospital free on Hospedia radio channel 45 and on the guest wi-fi via our streaming service on TuneIn radio app. You can also listen by down loading our free Apple and Android app. In the future we also hope to broadcast on DAB across West London.

Our service is run entirely by volunteers. We broadcast 24 hours a day using a software programme called Myriad which allows us to broadcast both live and pre-recorded shows, which has been essential this past year. Since the start of the pandemic we have mainly been broadcasting from our volunteers’ homes, as they can log into the system remotely and record their shows using a lap top and a microphone.

We are also entirely self-funding. Our volunteers usually go out and about with collection tins, we organise quiz nights and provide music and P.A. systems for events, however, this past year we had to change our approach. We recently ran a successful virtual bingo night on zoom for our volunteers and friends, which raised an amazing £1,160. We have also set up a donation button on our website.

I love my role as Chairman looking after our volunteers but also liaising with hospital management. It can be a challenging role at times but I enjoy a challenge.

Vipula Bist – Macmillan Cancer Centre volunteer

I am a qualified Clinical Reflexologist and offered my services last year to the Macmillan Cancer Centre at Hillingdon Hospital in a voluntary capacity. The patients enjoyed the hour-long sessions and l received great feedback for them regarding their symptoms and how well they were responding to the treatments. Many patients requested to come back and have more reflexology from me which was such a confidence boost to the Macmillan Team and me.

Reflexology is based on the idea that applying different pressures to the feet or hands can give an insight to the workings of the bodily systems and organs. It promotes deep relaxation along with encouraging the body to self-heal.

A reflexologist does not claim to heal or cure conditions, but it can be used in conjunction with regular treatment and is useful in helping with pain management, sleeplessness, nausea, digestive issues, anxiety and depression and a whole lot more, all in a non-invasive manner.

I was also working at Mount Vernon Hospital offering reflexology to staff, which was an initiative trialled to see how it could help improve staff wellbeing and ease the impact on those working long hours. This was also going so well until Covid-19 struck and everything had to stop.

I absolutely love treating people through reflexology and enjoy it even more when patients come back to me and tell me how their symptoms have eased and how much more cheerful they are feeling about facing the future. I love the fact I do this voluntarily because it is my time to give back to society. With Covid-19 arriving last year, it put the brakes on complimentary therapy and reflexology had to be shelved until further notice, but l have continued my volunteering services in the hospital in a different capacity.

I have been working in the Vaccination Hub since the vaccination rollout, helping with everything from administrative duties to stewarding. Mount Vernon has also trained me up as a Response Volunteer where l am currently volunteering by providing administrative work throughout their various departments. I hope to return to my reflexology soon because it is a passion of mine, and to continue to volunteer and offer my skill to support patients in their wellbeing and recovery.

Sunita Hirani

Having supported the Bliss charity for almost 20 years from a distance, I wanted to get more involved. Bliss is an amazing organisation which offers support to parents and carers of sick or premature babies, where they are often being cared for in neonatal units. 

I applied to become a Bliss Champion, meaning that, after training, I would be present on the Neonatal Unit to offer support by listening and signposting mothers to information. 

I was introduced to Suetmei Yoon who made me feel very at ease, as did the rest of the team. Every visit I made to the unit made a significant difference to me as I took huge delight in extending support and raising awareness around Bliss for parents and carers, as well as some staff. 

By taking part in the initiative with Bliss, THH provided a unique, genuine, emotional and encouraging opportunity for many people, especially many vulnerable parents/carers of sick or premature babies. I felt enormously proud during each and every visit.

Alas, my visits came to a halt as we entered lockdown for obvious reasons, and whilst this was disheartening yet fully understandable, I was still able to help and lend support as a volunteer by helping with the Vaccination Hub. No one shift was the same; there was change every week as our landscape and response changed.

During a time when uncertainty was paramount, being able to add some form of value to a life-changing, lifesaving initiative was beyond a duty of love - it was everything. Each and every shift I attended was delightful, full of happiness and hope, educational and social! 

I look forward to returning to the neonatal unit as and when it is safely possible.

Fiona Blackwell

I first signed up to become an NHS volunteer after seeing a campaign in the Daily Mail and was put in touch with Hillingdon Hospital’s brilliant volunteer manager, Marcy. As part of the induction process, we were offered a choice of different roles and ways to support. I’m a very bubbly person, and love being around people, so was drawn to meet and greet roles, and ward befriending.  

I was assigned to the Stroke Ward at Mount Vernon hospital, where I would sit with patients, chat to them, play games, and generally act as an extra pair of hands for the brilliant staff. Sadly, this kind of face-to-face support became impossible at the height of Covid-19, so a group of us moved across to support the vaccine hub instead. We would work six-hour shifts doing everything from meeting and greeting, completing and logging paperwork, and monitoring the recovery room.

It was a brilliant experience and the atmosphere in the hub was really joyous. We had a huge amount of fun as a team, the staff who worked there were lovely, and it was great to see how happy people were to be receiving the vaccine.   As things start to open up again, I’m going to move back to Mount Vernon, this time helping to support the team at the new Urgent Care Nurse Practitioner Service. I’m not sure exactly what it will entail yet, but I’m really looking forward to being back at the hospital.   

Heather Jolliffe

Like Fiona, I also started volunteering at Hillingdon after reading about the Daily Mail campaign. I had known for a while that I wanted to support but hadn’t been aware that volunteering for the NHS was an option. 

I met with Marcy and we had a chat about me, what my strengths were, and where I might be most useful. I have a fitness background, so she suggested that I work with the Physio Team at Mount Vernon, helping with the delivery of some of the very simple rehabilitation exercises, and giving one-on-one support to patients. It has been great, and it is really wonderful to see the impact that we can have in just being able to spend time with people who are feeling scared and vulnerable. Some patients didn’t have many visitors, so once the teams got to know us, volunteers would come in more often to help wherever we could and support those who felt most isolated.  

During the height of Covid-19 I also joined the team over at the vaccine centre, two days a week, doing all sorts of jobs, like back-office filing, running the front desk, and managing queues. There was a real camaraderie and a fantastic atmosphere. It was also really enjoyable just to be out knowing that we were part of team and doing something to help at a really difficult time. We’ve all become close and are hoping to get together again for a social once it is possible.