Carys Williams was the first volunteer back on site at Kingston Hospital. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, life has been very different for Carys and for the other volunteers who give their time to support the hospital.
Many volunteering roles had been paused, but Kingston Hospital is now welcoming some of its volunteers back to the hospital, either virtually or in person, in a phased approach beginning with those that are low risk and double vaccinated.
Speaking about her time as a volunteer, Carys said: “I decided to become a volunteer for a few different reasons – I’ve always liked helping other people and I am also hoping to study medicine next year. Originally I volunteered as a dining companion, because I wanted to gain some experience of being on a hospital ward, which I’ve never really had, because thankfully I’ve never been in hospital. I have really enjoyed giving my time to the hospital and I love being able to come here and help out.
“More recently, I’ve been able to take up one of the hospital’s new virtual volunteering roles which has been brilliant, but for a time at the start of the pandemic, I wasn’t volunteering at all and that was hard because I wanted to be able to help the hospital in any way I could. It was difficult not being able to come in and I missed seeing the patients. I had been visiting one lady in hospital every week in my role as a dining companion, so not coming in and seeing her was hard – not going on to the wards and seeing the patients was strange.”
Carys was able to continue with some of her volunteering between March and July last year and was recently awarded Kingston Hospital’s “Inspiring” volunteer award for her commitment during the first wave of the pandemic. Although unable to visit the hospital wards during this time, Carys volunteered on a weekly basis, handing out drinks and snacks to staff, as well as helping to distribute various donations that were gratefully received by the hospital from individuals and businesses in the local community.
This month, Carys and a number of other volunteers have returned to the hospital site to help distribute PCR testing kits to all Kingston Hospital staff, as part of Kingston Council’s surge testing efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
When asked how it feels to be back, Carys said: “It feels really good. It is so nice to be able to interact with people again and to help out.”
Carys hopes to return to her volunteering role as a dining companion in the not too distant future, as more volunteering roles are reintroduced at the hospital, following refresher training for all volunteers.
All volunteers returning to Kingston Hospital are adhering to strict infection prevention and control measures, in line with Kingston Hospital’s COVID-19 protocols and current government guidance.
Laura Shalev Greene, Head of Volunteering at Kingston Hospital, said: “Carys is a fantastic ambassador for our volunteers, supporting the delivery of outstanding healthcare at Kingston Hospital. We have had a fantastic response to our call for volunteers to support the distribution of PCR test kits and our volunteers are giving over 60 hours over the three week distribution period. This is the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel for volunteering, with our valued volunteers beginning to return in a controlled way to Kingston Hospital.”
If you are interested in volunteering at Kingston Hospital, you can call the volunteering team on 0208 934 2549 or email firstname.lastname@example.org