04/06/2024 | Press releases

Celebrating our dedicated volunteers

This week is Volunteers’ Week (3 to 9 June). We’re marking it by shining a spotlight on two people who give up their time to support patients, visitors and staff across ESNEFT.

Around 450 people currently volunteer with the Trust, and fulfil a wide variety of roles from ward support and clinic helpers to admin roles, gardeners and Pets as Therapy volunteers.

Among them is Kieran Sowter (pictured below), who enjoys nothing more than a shift in A&E at Colchester Hospital. The 29-year-old has been volunteering in the unit for around five months, and spends one afternoon a week completing tasks such as chatting to patients, making cups of tea and helping staff by wiping down beds and restocking kit.

A male volunteer on a hospital ward

“I started volunteering as I wanted to feel the satisfaction of helping to brighten someone’s day,” said Kieran, who is stationed at Colchester Barracks with 16 Air Assault Brigade. “I also don’t get much human interaction in my role in the army and wanted to experience something a bit different.

“I really enjoy chatting to the patients, particularly those who are on their own. They are all so grateful and appreciate the fact that you’re able to spend some time with them, as sometimes just having a conversation can make a big difference.

“I wanted a fast-paced and interesting role so specifically asked to volunteer in A&E. I was warned it might be challenging and did find my first shift a little overwhelming as the unit was so busy with a lot of very poorly people. But I think my experiences in the army have definitely helped as they have given me confidence and good communication skills, which made everything a little less daunting.

“I thoroughly enjoy volunteering and wish I’d done it sooner. I’d 100% recommend it to anyone who has some time to spare.”

Along the A12, Sue Cotton (pictured below) had been helping out at Ipswich Hospital for eight years. She became a meal time volunteer after noticing that food was often left on patients’ plates.

A female volunteer in a hospital corridor with a food trolley

“Not every patient needs one-to-one help with eating, but even just opening butter or helping them spread it creates a happier meal time and less food waste,” said Sue, who was given full training, which included different ways to encourage patients to eat.

“I know from my previous time spent on the ward how vital the mealtime volunteer role is. It will help patients to get stronger and hopefully be discharged home sooner, as well as freeing up nurses’ time.

“I really enjoy direct contact with patients and enjoy helping others. I would happily recommend the role to anyone – it’s so rewarding.”

You can find out more about opportunities at ESNEFT on the volunteering pages of our website.

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