Volunteering can be life-changing

21st July 2018 | by Volunteer team

James attends St. Benet Biscop Catholic High School and hopes to work in genetic research once he has completed his studies in chemistry, biology and mathematics. Apart from visiting scouts every week, James used to spend a lot of time in front of the TV in his spare time. As part of the national Helpforce initiative, Northumbria Healthcare Volunteering Service visited St. Benet Biscop to make a presentation to the students who may be interested in volunteering and being part of this exciting project. This is where James met Lynn and Michael from Northumbria. James says “I found out through my sixth form teacher that there was an opportunity to volunteer in the NHS. I wasn’t too sure about volunteering in the NHS as you hear so much bad stuff and wasn’t sure if it would be for me. I went along to the presentation and I was met by Lynn and Michael from Northumbria’s volunteer service. Their presentation and stories got me hooked and I wanted to become a volunteer as I knew I could offer the help that is needed to make a difference.”

Michael said “As soon as we met James we instantly thought that he would be a great addition to the volunteer team. He was charming and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. He made it clear he wanted to volunteer for the right reasons and we were happy for him to take away an application form to complete.” James completed and returned his application form and the process began for him to become a volunteer. He told us that the process did seem prolonged, especially the occupational health part, although now that he is in his role he fully understands the reasons that it took so long.

The recruitment process involves a DBS, occupation health check, references and attendance at a volunteer induction session to complete. A new role development session was created to help prepare the volunteers and understand key aspects of their role around dementia, difficult conversations, bereavement, social media and ‘what it’s like on a ward’. The evaluations from the role development session told us that volunteers were more prepared and had a better understanding after the session than they did before.

James said “The role development session provided me with a lot of information around really important stuff. I felt more prepared and understood what I would experience within my role. I got to meet everyone involved with the project including Sally, who gave me lots of encouragement and the whole session motivated me.”

“I didn’t get out a lot and knew I needed to get away from the TV screen. I’m very different to my sister who socialises a lot but all I used to do was scouts. I enjoyed it as my father and my grandfather also used to be part of scouts. There wasn’t anything else that interested me and never really thought about volunteering.”